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Although the plan of the book i,3 maintained 
unchanged, and Chapters VI and VII, containing 
the legends, have been reprinted without material 
emendation, this edition is substantially a new work. 

The versions of the inscriptions, its most important 
part, have been repeatedly compared word by word 
with the texts and revised throughout, after careful 
consideration of all criticisms accessible to me. In 
this task I have been aided greatly by many valuable 
communications received from Mr. F. W. Thomas, 
Librarian of the India Office. It is a pleasure to me 
to be now able to agree with M. Senart in the 
view expressed by him in 1886, and adopted by 
Mr. Thomas, that Minor Kock Edict I is the earliest 
document in the collection, and that the mysterious 
figures at the end of it are not a date. Unfortunately, 
agreement with those two eminent scholars involves 
disagreement with others. The recent discovery of 
the Sarnath pillar not only adds a new edict to those 
previously known, but also clears up the interpreta- 
tion of the Sanchi and Kausambi edicts, which were 
misunderstood when the first edition of this book was 
published. A bibliographical note and map have 
been inserted. 

The difference of opinion alluded to concerning the 
interpretation of Minor Rock Edict I governs the 


treatment of the whole history of Asoka, which is 
discussed in this volume 013 the basis that he became 
a Buddhist early in hifl reign, and that all the edicts 
were issued hy him as the sovereign I bad of the 
Buddhist Church. 

The description of the liauiya empire and ad- 
ministration in Chapter II has been revised with 
special regard to the discovery and partial publication 
by Mr. K. Shamasastry of the ancient treatise on the 
Art of ( lovernment, ascribed to Ohanakya or Kautilya, 
the minister of ( handragupta Maurya. 

The account of the monuments in Chapter III has 
been corrected in various details, brought up to date, 
and amplified. 

The time for declaring the interpretation of every 

phrase in the inscriptions of Asoka to be definitely 

settled has not yet come: but tin- little volume, 

while not professing to solve all doubts, aims at 

placing before it^ readers the results of the latest 

researches SO far as they are known to and understood 

by the author, and certainly marks a great advance 

in the correct interpretation of the documents, afl 

compared with its predecessor. Perhaps it may be 

permissible to add that it is >till the only work in 

any language in which all the inscriptions can be 

found together, except that Dr. Coomaraswamy has 

issued from the Essex House Press a limited Sdttion 

de luxe of my versions, nearly identical with those 

now offered. 

\ . A. S. 

Feb. 12. 1909. 


A volume on Asoka Maury a by Professor Rhys 
Davids was intended to be the first of the ' Rulers 
of India ' series, but unfortunately circumstances pre- 
vented the fulfilment of that intention, and the series 
was closed leaving vacant the niche destined for the 
great Buddhist emperor. With the approval of Pro- 
fessor Rhys Davids I have undertaken the preparation 
of a supplementary volume giving in a popular form 
the substance of what is known concerning the 
Maurya empire. The sources of our knowledge of 
ancient Indian history are so meagre that it is 
impossible to treat the subject of this volume in 
a manner similar to that in which the biographies 
of Akbar, Albuquerque, and other Indian worthies 
have been treated. All minute biographical details 
are lacking, and a distinct picture of the man Asoka 
cannot be painted. Nevertheless, enough is known 
to render the subject interesting, and if my book 
should fail to interest readers, the fault will lie 
with the author rather than with the subject. 

The chapter entitled ' The History of Asoka ' will 
be found to differ widely from all other publications, 
such as Cunningham's Bhilsa Topes, which treat of 
that topic. I have tried to follow the example of 
the best modern historians, and to keep the legends 


separate from what seems to me to be authentic 
history. Among the legends I have placed the stories 
of the conversion of Ceylon and of the deliberations 
of the so-called Third Council. All the forms of those 
stories which have reached us are crowded with 
absurdities and contradictions from which legitimate 
criticism cannot extract trustworthy history. 

In dealing with the vexed question of transliteration 
I have .shunned the pedantic atrocities of international 
systems, which do not shrink from presenting Krishna 
in the guise of Krsna. Champ! as A'ampa, and so on. 
The consonants in the Indian words and names in 
this book are to be pronounced as in English, and the 
vowels usually as in Italian. The short unaccented a 
lias an indistinct sound Bfl in the word ' woman. 
Long vowels are marked when necessary ; other 
diacritical marks have not been used in the text. 



I. The History of Asoka u 

Chronology of the Maurya Period . . 72 

II. Extent and Administration of the Empire. 75 

III. The Monuments 107 

Inscribed Pillars of Asoka .... 146 

IV. The Rock Edicts ...... 149 

V. The Pillar and Miscellaneous Inscriptions 182 

Bibliographical Note 202 

VI. The Ceylonese Legend of Asoka . . .205 
VII. The Indian Legends of Asoka . . . .221 

Appendix 242 

Index 243 


1. The Pillar at Lauriya-Nandangarh . Frontispiece 

2. Inscription on the RummindeI Pillar . to face p. 199 

Map. The Empire of Asoka 250 b.c. . . At end 


The History of Asoka 

When Alexander, invincible before all enemies 
save death, passed away at Babylon in June, B. c. §1^ 
and his generals assembled in council to divide the 
empire which no arm but his could control, they were 
compelled perforce to decide that the distant Indian 
provinces should remain in the hands of the officers 
and princes to whom they had been entrusted by the 
king. Two years later, when an amended partition 
was effected at Triparadeisos in Syria, Sibyrtios was 
confirmed as governor of Arachosia (Kandahar) and 
Gedrosia (Makran), the provinces of Aria (Herat) and 
Drangiana (Sistan) being assigned to Stasander the 
Cyprian, while Bactriana and Sogdiana to the north of 
the Hindu Kush were bestowed on Stasanor of Soli, 
another Cyprian. Oxyartes, father of Alexander's 
consort, Roxana, obtained the satrapy of the Paropani- 
sadai, or Kabul territory, the neighbouring Indian 
districts to the west of the Indus being placed in charge 
of Peithon, son of Agenor, whom Alexander had 
appointed ruler of Sind below the confluence of the 
rivers. Probably Peithon was not in a position to hold 
Sind after his master's death. Antipater, who arranged 


the partition, admitting that he possessed no force 
adequate to remove the Rajas to the east of the Indus, 
was obliged to recognize Omphifi or Ambhi, king of 
Taxila, and Poros, Alexander's honoured opponent, as 
lords of the Panjab, subject to a merely nominal 
dependence on the Macedonian power 1 . Philippos, 
whom Alexander had made satrap of that province, was 
murdered by his mercenary troops early in B.C. 324, 
and Alexander] who heard the news in Ivarmania, 
was unable to do more than appoint an officer named 
Eudemos to act as the colleague of King Ambhi. 
luidemos managed to hold his ground for some time, 
but in or about B.C. 31 7 treacherously slew his Indian 
colleague, seised a hundred and twenty elephants, and 
with them and a considerable body of troops, marched 
oil' to help Eumenee in his struggle with Antipater 8 . 
The departure of Eud&noe marks the final collapse of 
the Macedonian attempt to establish a Greek empire 
in India. 

But several years before that event a new Indian 

1 'For it was impossible to remove (^fTa/awjo-m ) these kings 
without royal troops under the command of some distinguished 
general ' (Diodorus Sic. xviii. 391. 

- The partition of Triparadeisos is detailed in Diodorus 
Siculus, xviii. 39. His statement that the country along the 
Indus was assigned to Poros, and that along the Hydaspes to 
Taxiles (sell. Ambhi; cannot be correct, and the names of the 
kings seem to have been transposed. 

The departure of Eudemos is related, ibid. xix. 14. He is 
said to have seized the elephants after the death of Alexander, 
1 having treacherously slain Poros the king.' But there is 
a various reading nparov (' first ') for Uutpov (' Poros '). 


power had arisen which could not brook the presence of 
foreign garrisons, and probably had destroyed most of 
them prior to the withdrawal of Eudemos. The deafcfc 
of Alexander in June, b. c. 323, must have been known 
in India early in the autumn, and it is reasonable to 
suppose that risings of the natives occurred as soon as 
the season for campaigning opened in October. The 
leader of the movement for the liberation of his country 
which then began was a young man named Chandra- 
gupta Maurya, who seems to have been an illegitimate 
scion of the Nanda dynasty of Magadha, or South 
Bihar, then the premier state in the interior. With the 
help of an astute Brahman counsellor named Chanakya, 
who became his minister, Chandragupta dethroned and 
slew the Nanda king, exterminating his family. He 
then ascended the vacant throne at Pataliputra the 
capital, the modern Patna, and for twenty-four years 
ruled the realm with an iron hand. If Justin may be 
believed, the usurper turned into slavery the semblance 
of liberty which he had won for the Indians by his 
expulsion of the Macedonians, and oppressed the people 
with a cruel tyranny. Employing the fierce and more 
than half- foreign clans of the north-western frontier 
to execute his ambitious plans, he quickly extended his 
sway over the whole of Northern India, probably as 
far as the Narbada. Whether he first made himself 
master of Magadha and thence advanced northwards 
against the Macedonian garrisons, or first headed the 
risings in the Panjab, and then with the forces col- 
lected there swooped down upon theGangetic Kingdoim 

j 4 ASOKA 

does not dearly appear l . There in, however, no doubt 
about the result of his action. Chandragupta became 
„1.. first emperor of India and ruled the land from sea 
to sea. 

Seleukos, surnamed Nikator, or the Conqueror, by 
reason of his many victories, had established himself 
as Satrap of Babylon after the partition of Tripara- 
deisos in b. c. 321, but six years later was driven out 
by his rival Antigonos and compelled to flee to Egypt. 
After three years' exile he recovered Babylon in 
b. c. 312, and devoted himself to the consolidation and 
extension of his power. He attacked and subjugated 
the Bactrians, and in j;. <:. 306 assumed the royal title. 
Ho is known to historians as King of Syria, although 
that province formed only a small part of his wide 
dominions, which included all western Asia. 

About the same time (h. 0. 305) he crossed the Indus, 
and directed his victorious arms against India in the 
hope of regaining the provinces which had been held 

1 'Auctor libertatu Sandrocottua faerat : Bed titulum liber- 
tatis post victoriam in servitutem verterat. Siquidem occupato 
regno, populum, quern ab externa dominations viiulicaverat, 
ipse servitio premebat. Fait hie quidem humili genere 
natus . . . contractu latronibus, Indos ad novitatem regni 
sollicitavit. Molienti deinde bellum adveraus praefectos 
Alexandri .... duxque belli et praeliator insignis fuit. Sic 
acquisito regno, Sandrocottus ea tempestate, qua Seleucus 
futurae magnitudinis fundamenta iaciebat, Indiam possidebat: 
cum quo facta pactione Seleucus.' The miracles are omitted 
from the quotation. The word deinde seems to indicate that 
the war with Alexanders officers followed the usurpation (Justin, 
xv. 4). 


by his late master for a brief space, and of surpassing 
his achievement by subduing the central kingdoms. 
But the vast hosts of teeming India led by Chandra- 
gupta were more than a match for the power of the 
Macedonian, who was compelled to withdraw from 
the country and renounce his ambition to eclipse the 
glory of Alexander. No record of the conflict has 
survived, and we are ignorant of the place of battle 
and everything save the result. Terms of peace, 
including a matrimonial alliance between the two royal 
houses, were arranged,and the Indian monarch obtained 
from his opponent the cession of four satrapies, Aria, 
Arachosia, Gedrosia, and the Paropanisadai, giving in 
exchange the comparatively small recompense of Hve 
hundred elephants. This memorable treaty extended 
Chandragupta's frontier to the Hindu Kush mountains, 
and brought under his sway nearly the whole of the 
present Kingdom of Afghanistan, besides Baluchistan 
and Makran \ 

A German writer has evolved from his inner con- 
sciousness a theory that Chandragupta recognized the 
suzerainty of Seleukos, but the plain facts are that 
the Syrian monarch failed and was obliged to sur- 
render four valuable provinces for very inadequate 
consideration. Five hundred elephants at a high 

1 The current assertion that the Syrian King 'gave his 
daughter in marriage ' to Chandragupta is not warranted by 
the evidence, which testifies merely to a ' matrimonial alliance ' 
(k^Sos, emyaula). The authorities for the extent of the cession 
of territory by Seleukos are textu'ally quoted and discussed in 
Early History of India, 2nd ed., App. G. 

1 6 ASOKA 

valuation would not be worth more than about 
two millions of rupees, say £125,000 sterling. 
Seleukos never attempted to assert any superiority 
over his successful Indian rival, but, on tin- contr 
having failed in attack, made friends with the 
power which had proved to be too strong for him. and 
treated Chandragupta as an equal. 

In pursuance of this policy, soon after his defeat, in 
or about B.C. 305, Seleukoi dispatched Megasth- 1 
an officer of Sibyrtios, the Batrap of Arachosia, as his 
ambassador to the court of Chandragupta at Patali- 
putra on the S6n, near the confluence of that river 
with the Ganges, which in those days was situated 
below the city. The modern city of Patna, the civil 
station of Kankipore, and adjoining villages have 
he. n proved by partial excavations to occupy the site 
of the ancient capital, the remains of which now lie 
buried at a depth of from ten to twenty feet below 
the existing surface. Megasthenes resided there for 
S considerable time, and fortunately for posterity, 
took the trouble to record carefully what he saw and 
heard. The ambassador found the government of the 
Indian king strong and well organised, established in 
a magnificent fortified city, worthy to be the capital 
of a great kingdom. The royal camp at the capital 
was estimated to contain 400,000 souls, and an effi- 
cient standing army numbering 600,000 infantry, 
30,000 cavalry. 9,000 elephants, and a multitude of 
chariots, was maintained at the king's expense. On 
active service [the army is said to have mustered the 


huge total of 600,000 men of all arms, a number not 
incredible in the light of our knowledge of the un- 
wieldy size of the hosts employed by Indian princes 
in later ages. With this overwhelming and well^ 
equipped force Chandragupta, as Plutarch tells us, 
* overran and subdued the whole of India/ that is . to 
say, at least all the country to the north of the 
Narbada. His empire, therefore, extended from that 
river to the Himalaya and Hindu Kush *. 

1 The chief authority for the history of Chandragupta is 
Megasthenes. His work has been lost, but the pith of it is pre- 
served in extracts or allusions by Arrian, Anabasis, Bk. v. ch. 
6 ; Indika, various passages ; Q. Curtius, Bk. viii. ch. 9 ; 
Plutarch, Life of Alexander, ch. 62 ; Justin, Bk. xv. ch. 4 ; 
Appian, Syriake, ch. 55; Strabo, i. 53, 57; ii. 1. 9; xv. i. 36; 
Athenaios, Deipnosophists, ch. 18 d; and Pliny, Hist. Nat. vi. 
19, &c. The testimony of Megasthenes concerning all matters 
which came under his personal observation is trustworthy, and 
Arrian rightly described him as ' a worthy man ' (doKifios). 
Strabo and some other ancient writers censure him unjustly 
on account of the ' travellers' tales' which he repeated. The 
passages above cited and most of the other references in Greek 
and Roman authors to India have been carefully translated in 
Mr. McCrindle's works {Ancient India as described by Megasthenes 
and Arrian, Triibner, 1877 ; Invasion of India by Alexander the 
Great, 2nd ed., 1896; and Ancient India as described in Classical 
Literature, 1901). Interesting traditional details are given in 
the Mudrd-Rdkshasa drama, which is now believed by some 
scholars to date from the fifth or sixth century A. D. But 
Mr. Keith places it in either the seventh or the ninth century 
(J. R. A. S., 1909, p. 149). The recently discovered Arthasdstra 
of Chanakya, partly translated by R. Shamasastry (G. T. A. Press, 
Mysore, 1908), throws much light on the institutions of the Maurya 
period and will be utilized in the next chapter. The Puranas 
and the chronicles of Ceylon also give valuable information, 


A tie j- twenty-four years of stern and vigorous rule, 
Chandragupta died, and transmitted the immense 
empire which he had w r on to his son Bindusara 
Ainitraghata. who reigned for twenty-five or, accord- 
ing to other authorities, twenty-eight years l . The 
only recorded public event of his reign, which may be 
assumed to have begun in either B.C. 298 or 301, 
according to the chronology adopted, is the dispatch 
to his court by the King of Syria of an ambassador 
named Dei'machos. The information is of interest as 
proving that the official intercourse with the Hellenic 
world begun by Chandragupta was continued by his 
successor. In the year B. c. 280 Seleukos Nikator, 
then in the BeTeiity-eightb year of his age, w T as mur- 
dered, and was BUCOeeded on the Syrian throne by his 
son Antiochos Soter. 

Greek writers have preserved curious anecdotes of 
private friendly correspondence between Seleukos and 
Chandragupta and between Antiochos and Bindusara. 
of value only as indications that the Indian monarchs 

and a lew particulars are obtainable from other sources. 
Solinus (McCrindle, Mcyastheties, p. 1 56) gives the infantry force 
as 60,000 only, and the elephants as 8,000. 

1 The name Bindusara is attested by the Hindu Vitkn* 
I'uirina, the Buddhist Mahuvar'nsa and Dipavamia, and the 
Jain Bariiishtaparvan, The variants in other PtirCin as seem to 
be mere clerical errors. The name or title Amitraghata 
('slayer of foes') is a restoration in Sanskrit of the Amitro- 
chades or Ainitrochates of Greek writers, who is stated to have 
been the son of Chandragupta (Sandrakoptos, &c). Dr. Fleet 
prefers to restore Aniitrakhada ('devourer of enemies'), which 
is said to occur as an epithet of Indra (J. R. A. .$'., 1909, p. 24). 


communicated with their European allies on terms of 
perfect equality. The mi-ssion of Dionysios, who was 
sent to India, and no doubt to the Maurya court, by 
Ptolemy Philadelphos, King of Egypt (b. c. 285-247), 
must have arrived in the reign of either Bindusara or 
his son Asoka. Patrokles, an officer who served under 
both Seleukos and his son, sailed in the Indian seas 
and collected much geographical information which 
Strabo and Pliny were glad to utilize. 
* About seven years after the death of Seleukos, 
Asoka-vardhana, commonly called (Asoka, a son of 
Bindusara, and the third sovereign of the Maurya 
dynasty, ascended the throne of Pataliputra (b. c. 273), 
and undertook the government of the Indian empire, 
which he held for about forty years. ) ^According to 
the silly fictions which disfigure the Ceylonese chron- 
icles and disguise their solid merits, Asoka waded to 
the throne through a sea of blood, securing his position 
by the massacre of ninety-nine brothers, one brother 
only, the youngest, being saved alive. These fictions, 
an extract from which will be found in a later chap- 
ter, do not deserve serious criticism, and are sufficiently 
refuted by the testimony of the inscriptions which 
proves that the brothers and sisters of the king were 
still living in the middle of the reign, and that 
they and all the members of the royal family were 
the objects of the sovereign's anxious solicitude \ 

1 Asoka's 'brothers and sisters' are mentioned specifically 
in Rock Edict V. See also Rock Edicts IV and VI, Pillar 
Edict VII, and the Queen's Edict. 

B 2 


The tradition that Asoka, previous to his accession, 
served his apprenticeship to the art of government as 
Viceroy first of Taxila, and afterwards of Ujjain, may 
be accepted, for we know that both viceroyalties were 
held by princes of the royal family. 

It seems to be true that the solemn consecration, 
or coronation, of Asoka was delayed for about four 
years after his accession in B. c. 273, and it is possible 
that the long delay may have been due to a disputed 
succession involving much bloodshed, but there is no 
independent evidence of such a struggle. The empire 
won by I handragupta had passed intact to his son 
Bindos&ra, and when, after the lapse of a quarter of 
a century, the sceptre was again transmitted from the 
hands of Bindusara to those of his BOO Asoka. it seems 
unlikely that a prolonged struggle was needed to 
ensmv the wiocessioo to a tin-one so well established 
and a dominion so firmly consolidated. The authentic 
records give no hint that Asoka's tranquillity was 
disturbed by internal commotion but on the contrary 
exhibit him as fully master in his empire, giving orders 
for execution in the most distant provinces with 
perfect confidence that they would be obeyed. 

The numerous inscriptions recorded by Asoka are 
the leading authority for the events of his reign. 
They are all anonymous, but the evidence in favour 
of their authorship is conclusive, and the reader need 
not be troubled by any doubts on the subject 1 . 

1 The evidence is fully set forth in the author's essays entitled 
1 The Authorship of the Piyadasi Inscriptions,' J. R. A. S., 1901, 


A few other inscriptions and traditions preserved in 
various literary forms help to fill up the outline 
derived from the primary authority, and by utilizing 
the available materials of all kinds, we are in a posi- 
tion to compile a tolerably full account of the reign, 
considering the remoteness of the period discussed, 
and the well-known deficiency of Hindu literature 
in purely historical works. The interest of the story 
is mainly psychological and religious, that is to say, 
as_jw.e read it we watch the development of a com- 
manding personality and the effect of its action in 
transforming a local Indian sect into one of the 
leading religions of the world. That interest is per- 
manent, and no student of the history of religion can 
ignore Asoka, who stands beside St. Paul, Constan- 
tine, and the Khalif Omar in the small group of men 
who have raised to dominant positions religions 
founded by others. 

The dates which follow may be open to slight 
correction, for various reasons which we need not stop 
to examine, but the error in any case cannot exceed 
two years, and the chronology of the reign may be 
regarded as practically settled in its main outlines. 
Bearing in mind this liability to immaterial error, we 
may affirm that Asoka succeeded his father in 273, 
and four years later, in b. 0. 269, was solemnly conse- 
crated to the sacred office of Kingship by the rite of 

pp. 481-99 ; and 'The Identity of Piyadasi (Priyadarsin) with 
Asoka Maurya, and some connected Problems,' ibid., pp. 


aspersion (abhisheka), equivalent to the coronation of 
European monarch* 1 . Like his fathers before him, 
Asoka assumed the title of devd na m piya, which 
literally means 'dear to the gods,' but is better 
treated as a formal title, suitably rendered by the 
phrase current in Stuart times, ' His i Sacred Majesty.' 
He also liked to describe himself as piyadcm, liter- 
ally ' of gracious mien,' another formal royal title, 
which may be rendered as 'JIU Grace' or 'His 
Gracious Majesty.' Asoka's grandfather, Chandra- 
gupta, assumed the closely related style of pvyadaeoma t 
1 dear to the sight,' which one of the Ceylonese chron- 
icles applies to Asoka. Thus, when the above two 
titles were combined with the word riijti, or 'king,' 
Asoka's full renal stvk- was ' His Sacred and (iracious 
Majesty the King.' The complete formula i^ often 
used in the inscriptions, but in many cases it is 
abbreviated -. 

Nothing authentic is on record concerning the early 

1 Dr. Fleet prefers the term 'anointing/ and -tates that the 
liquid poured over the king included ' ghee ' or clarified butter 
(J. E. A. &, 1909, p. 30 note). 

2 The reasons for rendering the royal style as in the text are 
explained in ' The Meaning of Piyadasi ' 1 1ml. Ant., xxxii (1903;. 
p. 265). Chandragnpta is called itiadamsana in the Mudrd- 
Btikshasa (Act vi). which used to be dated in the eighth century, 
but is now ascribed by some scholars to the Gupta period, in 
the fifth or sixth centuiy (Hillebrandt, tier das Kau/ilfi/a.klstra, 
Breslau, 1908. pp. 26, 301 ; contra, Keith, in J. R. A. S., 1909, 
p. 149. I do not deny that the chroniclers of Ceylon used 
Piyadasi and Piyadassana as quasi proper names, but I affirm 
that in the inscriptions the titles are not so used. 


years of the reign of His Sacred and Gracious Majesty 
King Asoka. The monkish chroniclers of India and 
Ceylon, eager to enhance the glory of Buddhism, 
represent the young king as having been a monster 
of cruelty before his conversion, and then known as 
Asoka the Wicked, in contradistinction to Asoka the 
Pious, his designation after conversion. But such 
tales, specimens of which will be found in Chapters VI 
and VII, are of no historical value, and should be 
treated simply as edifying romances. Tradition 
probably is right in stating that Asoka followed the 
religion of the Brahmans in his early days, with 
a special devotion to Siva, and we may assume that he 
led the life of an ordinary Hindu Raja of his time. 
We know, because he has told us so himself, that he 
then had no objection to sharing in the pleasures of 
the chase, or in the free use of animal food, while 
he permitted his subjects at the capital to indulge in 
merry-makings accompanied by feasting, wine, and 
song \ Whether or not he waged any wars in those 
years we do not know. There is no reason to suppose 
that his dominions were less than those of his grand- 
father and father, and equally little reason for sup- 
posing that he made additions to them. In his in- 
scriptions he counts his ' regnal years ' from the date of 
his consecration, which may be taken as B.C. 269 2 , and 

1 Rock Edicts I, VIII. 

2 The earliest dated inscriptions are of the thirteenth, and 
the latest (Pillar Edict VII) of the twenty-eighth ' regnal year, 1 
corresponding respectively with B.C. 257 and 242. The Minor 


ho always observed the anniversary of the ceremony 
by a jail delivery of prisoners condemned to death. 

The earliest recorded events belong to the ninth 
'regnal year,' & c. 261, tho thirteenth from the acces- 
sion of Asoka. In that year he sought to round off 
his dominions by the conquest of the Kingdom of the 
Three Kalingas, or Kalinga, on the coast of the Pay of 
Bengal between the Mahanadi and Godavari rivers. 
His arms were successful and the kingdom was an- 
nexed to the empire\ But the horrors which must 
accompany war. even SUOOessfa] war. made a deep 
impression on the heart <>(' the victorious monarch, 
who has recorded on the rocks in imperishable words 
tin- Bufferings of the vanquished and the remorse of 
the victor. The record is instinct with personal 
feding, and still carries across the ages the moan of 
a human Soul. Tin- words dearly are those of the 
king himself, for no Secretary of State would dare to 
express in such a language ' the profound sorrow and 
regret' felt by Hi- Sacred Majesty. The rocks tell 
the tale as follows : — 

' The Kalingas were conqueied hy His Sacred and Gracious 
Majesty the King when he had been consecrated eight years. 
One hundred and fifty thousand persons were thence carried 
away captive. 01. e hundred thousand were there slain, and 
many times that number perished. 

Directly after the annexation of the Kalingas began His 
Sacred Majesty's protection of the Law of Piety, his love of 

Pillar Edicts, which are not dated, may belong to the last year 
of his life, B. c. 232. They appear to be certainly later than 242. 


that Law, and his giving instruction in that Law. Thus 
arose His Majesty's remorse for having conquered the Ka- 
lingas, because the conquest of a country previously un- 
conquered involves the slaughter, death, and carrying away 
captive of the people. That is a matter of profound sorrow 
and regret to His Sacred Majesty .... The loss of even the 
hundredth or the thousandth part of the persons who were 
there slain, carried away captive, or done to death in the 
Kalingas would now be a matter of regret to His Sacred 

^ The royal preacher proceeds to prove in detail the 
horrors of war, and to draw the lesson that the true 
conquest is that of piety l . ''■ 

After the triumphant conclusion of the war and the 
annexation of the kingdom Asoka issued two long 
special edicts prescribing the principles on which both 
the settled inhabitants and the wild jungle tribes of 
the conquered provinces should be treated. These 
two edicts, in substitution for three documents pub- 
lished in other localities, were issued in Kalinga only, 
where they are preserved at two sites, now called 
Jaugada and Dhauli 2 . The conquered territory, no 
doubt, formed a separate unit of administration, and 
seems to have been constituted a viceroyalty under 
a Prince of the royal family stationed at Tosali, 
a town not precisely identified, but apparently situ- 
ated in the Puri District of Orissa 3 . There is no 

1 Rock Edict XIII. 

2 The Kalinga Edicts, formerly called Detached, replacing 
Nos. XI-XIII of the series published elsewhere. 

3 Dhauli versions of the Borderers' Edict. 


reason to believe that after the subjugation of the 
Kalingas Asoka ever again waged an aggressive war. 
His officers, the Wardens of the Marches mentioned in 
the edicts, may or may not have been compelled at 
times to defend portions of hie extended frontiers 
against the incursions of enemies, but all that we 
know of his life indicates that once he had begun to 
demote himself to the love, protection:; and teaching of 
the Law of Piety, or tlharmg^ he never again allowed 
himself to be tempted by ambition into an unprovoked 
war. It is possible that the Kaliuga conflict may 
not have been his first, bui certainly it was his last 
war undertaken voluntarily. 

The full meaning of the statement that the ki: 
love for and protection of the Law of Piety and his 
teaching of that Law began directly after the annexa- 
tion of Kalinga is brought out by comparison with 
another document (Minor Bock Edict I) published 
a few months earlier than the edict describing the 
annexation. In the earlier document, three copies 
of which are address* d to officers in the South through 
the Prince at Suvarnagiri, who apparently was the 
Southern Viceroy, and three to other officials. Asoka 
explains that for more than two years and a half he 
had been a lay disciple, without exerting himself 
strenuously, but that for more than a year prior to 
the publication of the edict he had become a member 
of the Buddhist Order of monks (samgha) and had 
devoted himself with the utmost energy to the demon- 
stration of the falsity of the popular gods and their 


worshippers. The total period referred to is conse- 
quently somewhere about four years. The conquest of 
the Kalingas took place in the ninth ' regnal year ' 
(b. c. 261), while the Rock Edict describing that opera- 
tion was issued four years later in the thirteenth 
■ regnal year ' (b. c. 257). When that edict, which 
expressly ascribes Asoka's conversion to his remorse 
for the sufferings caused by the war in the ninth 
'regnal year,' is read together with the Minor Rock 
Edict which traces his progress in virtue for four years, 
from the condition of a comparatively careless lay 
disciple to that of a zealous monk, it seems to be 
a necessary inference that Asoka became a lay disciple 
under the Buddhist system in his ninth ' regnal year,' 
immediately after the conquest of Kalinga, that he 
began to be zealous about two and a half years later, 
when he had been consecrated for about eleven years, 
and that he attained to a high standard of zeal more 
than a year subsequently when he began to issue his 
religious edicts in his thirteenth ' regnal year,' B.C. 257. 
He expressly informs us that his earliest inscriptions 
date from that year 1 . The Minor Rock Edict I, of 
which six copies are known, appears to be the first 
fruits of the epigraphic zeal of the convert, who longed 
to make everybody as energetic as himself, and re- 
solved that the imperishable record of his 'purpose 
must be written on the rocks, both afar off and here, 
and on a stone pillar, wherever a stone pillar exists.' 
These orders were largely executed and resulted in the 
1 Pillar Edict VI. 

28 ASOK.l 

considerable number of rock and pillar inscriptions 
now extant and known. Many more probably remain 
to be discovered, and at least two inscribed pillars are 
known to have been deliberately destroyed 1 . The 
period consisting of more than a year, say fifteen or 
sixteen months, of strenuous exertion appears to have 
been spent in a rapid tour through his dominions in 
the course of which he changed camp no less than 
256 timi 

Asoka's conversion to Buddhism, therefore, may 
be dated in B.C. 261-260. )lt is impossible to be more 
precise because we do not know the exact value of 
the expressions 'more than two years and a halt" and 
• more than a year.' The transition from the easy- 
going attitude of the lay disciple to the fervent zeal 
of the monk was effected when His Majesty, in his 
eleventh 'regnal year' (b. c. &50) entered the Order, 
abolished the Royal Hunt, and substituted pious 
tours, enlivened only by sermons and religious dis- 
cussions, for the tours of pleasure which he had 
enjoyed in his unregenerate days 2 . 

1 Namely, Lat Bhairo at Benares, smashed during a riot in 
1805, and one at Pataliputra, numerous fragments of which were 
found by the late Babu Purna Chandra Mukharji, as described 
in an unpublished report. The author's paper identifying Lat 
Bhairo with a pillar described by Hiuen Tsang will appear in 
Z. D. M. G. during 1909. 

2 This argument was lucidly stated by M. Senart in 1886 {Les 
Inscriptions de Piyatfa&i, tome II, pp. 222-45). When the fiist 
edition of this book was published I was misled by interpreta- 
tions of Minor Rock Edict I which now seem to be erroneous. 


Before proceeding farther in tracing the story of 
Asoka's religious development, which is the history of 
his life and reign, it will be convenient to pause and 
explain the nature of the dharma, or Law of Piety, 
which he loved, protected, and promulgated with all 
the energy of his temperament and all his power as 
a mighty sovereign. We must also consider how he 
managed to reconcile the apparently inconsistent 
positions of monk and monarch. 

Dharma, or Dhamma, means to a Hindu the rule 
of life for each man as determined by his caste and 
station, or, in other words, the whole duty, religious, 
moral, and social, of a man born to occupy a certain 
position in the world. For many ages past this con- 
ception of dharma has been inseparably associated 
with the notions of caste. Each caste has its own 
dharma, and conduct most proper for the member 
of one caste is reprehensible in the highest degree 
for a member of another. ' In Asoka's time caste, 
although in some respects less rigid than it has been 
since the shock of the Muhammadan invasions, which 
did so much to solidify the institution, was well de- 
veloped, and the now current Hindu notion of dharma 
does not seem to diverge widely from that then enter- 
tained by the followers of the Brahmanical law. The 
dhamma of the Edicts is that Hindu dharma with 
a difference, due to a Buddhist tinge, nay, rather due 

The position adopted in this edition, which has the support 
of Mr. F. W. Thomas as well as of M. Senart, is opposed by 
Dr. Fleet, whose latest article appears in J. R. A. S., 1909, p. 1. 


to saturation with the ethical thought which lies at 
the basis of Buddhism, but occupies a subordinate 
place in Hinduism. The association of the idea of 
duty with caste is dropped by Asoka, and two virtues, 
namely, respect for the sanctity of animal life and 
reverence to parents, superiors, and elders, are given 
a place far more prominent than that assigned to 
them in Hindu teaching. In short, the ethics of the 
Edicts are Buddhist rather than Brahmanical. This 
proposition, of course, does not involve contradiction 
of the equally true statement that Buddhism is a de- 
velopment of Hinduism. The marked prominence 
given to the two specially Buddhist virtues above 
mentioned BUggeetfi sq strongly the connotation of the 
Latin word pietaa that the phrase ' the Law of Piety,' 
or sometimes simply 'piety,' or 'the Law 5 seems to 
me the best ordinary rendering of dhathma in the 
Edicts, and preferable to 'righteousness,' 'religion,' 
'the moral law,' or other renderings favoured by 
various authors '. 

Many summaries of the dhamma, or Law of Piety, 
are to be found in the Edicts, the most concise being 
that in Minor Rock Edict II : — ■ 

'Thus saith His Sacred Majesty: — Father and mother 
must be hearkened to; similarly, respect for living creatures 

1 In the Bhabra Edict the Good Law (sadhatkme) means the 
collective sayings of Buddha, the recorded expression of the 
Law of Piety in its highest form. 

2 Other summaries are given in Rock Edicts III, IV, IX, XI, 
and Pillar Edict VI F, sec. 7. 


must be firmly established; truth must be spoken. These 
are the virtues of the Law of Piety which must be practised. 
Similarly, the teacher must be reverenced by the pupil, and 
towards relations proper courtesy should be shown. 

This is the ancient nature of piety — this leads to length of 
days, and according to this men should act/ 

No part of the royal teaching is inconsistent with 
that pithy abstract, but other documents lay stress 
on the duties of almsgiving, toleration of all denomina- 
tions, abstention from evil-speaking, and sundry other 
virtues. One of them defines the Law of Piety as 
comprising the duties of ' compassion, almsgiving, 
truth, purity, gentleness, and saintliness V Excellent 
moral doctrine of such a kind is inculcated over and 
over again, and men are invited to win both the 
royal favour and heavenly bliss by acting up to the 
precepts of the Law. 

No student of the edicts can fail to be struck by 
the purely human and severely practical character of 
the teaching. The object avowedly aimed at, as in 
modern Burma, is the happiness of living creatures, 
man and beast 2 . The teacher assumes that filial 
piety and the other virtues commended open the path 
to happiness here and hereafter, but no attempt is 
made to prove any proposition by reasoning, nor is 
any value attached to merely intellectual cognition. 

1 Pillar Edict VII. 

2 ' His religion says to him [the Burmese], " the aim of every 
'man should be happiness," and happiness only to be found by 

renouncing the whole world ' (Fielding Hall, TJie Soul of a 
People, p. 113). 


No foundation of cither theology or metapliysw 
laid, the ethical precepts inculcated being ordinarily 
set forth as rales required for practical guidance and 
sclf-evidently true. One edict only, that of Bhabra, 
probably early in date, expressly alleges the authority 
of the Venerable Buddha as the basis of the king's 
moral doctrine, and thai authority undoubtedly is the 
one foundation of Asoka's ethical system '. The |dng 
was an earnest student of the Buddhist sacred hooks, 
several of which he cite- by name and the edicts 
throughout arc full of words and turns of pt 
characteristic of, even if not peculiar to Buddhist' 
literature 8 . So lorn: as h«' felt assured that his 
teaching was in accordance with that of his M<- 
he needed nof to allege auy other justification. 

The authority expressly cited in the Bhabra Edict 
is understood throughout the whole series, and the 

only non-Buddhist inscriptions of Asoka arc the 
Barabar cave dedications in favour of the Ajivika 

ascetics, who were more akin to the Jains than to the 

1 Having now .adopted the opinion of M. Senart and Mr. V. W, 
Thomas that Minor Rock Edict I is the earliest of the K 
1 am inclined to assign the Bh&brS Edict to the same time. 
That Edict and a version of Minor Rock Edict 1 were recorded 
close together near Bair&t in R&jpat&na. 

2 Five out of seven passages cited in the Bhabrfi Edict bare 
been identified in the Nikdya portion of the Canon. The sayings 
'The Good Law will long endure' (Bhabra. Edict) and 'All 
men are my children ' (Borderers' Edict) also are canonical. 
M. Senart has noted many specially Buddhist words and 
phrases, throughout the inscriptions. 


The blessings offered by the Law of Piety, that is 
to say, the ethical teaching of Buddha, are not to be 
won by indolent acquiescence in a dogma or formal 
acceptance of a creed. Asoka's favourite maxim, 
apparently composed by himself, was the text ' Let 
small and great exert themselves 1 .' J,He never tires 
of urging the necessity of exertion and effort, ex- 
plaining that he himself had set a good example of 
hard worki 

' Whatever exertions,' lie observes, ' His Sacred and 
Gracious Majesty the King makes, all are for the sake of the 
life hereafter, so that every one may be freed from peril, which 
peril is vice. Difficult, however, it is to attain such freedom, 
whether by people of low or of high degree, save by the 
?.itmost exertion and giving up all other aims. That, how- 
ever, for him of high degree is exceedingly difficult V But 
'even by the small man, if he chooses to exert himself, 
immense heavenly bliss may be won V 

This doctrine of the need for continual self-sustained 
exertion in order to attain the highest moral level is 
fully in accordance with numerous passages in the 
Dha?hmapada and other early Buddhist scriptures. 
The saying about the difficulties of the man of high 
degree, recalls, as do many other Buddhist aphorisms, 
familiar Biblical texts, but the spirit of the Bible is 
totally different from that of Asoka's teaching. The 
Bible, whether in the Old Testament or the New, 
insists upon the relation of man with God, and upon 

1 Minor Rock Edict I. 

2 Rock Edict X. 

3 Minor Rock Edict I (Brahmagiri text). 



man's dependence on the grace of God. Asoka, on 
the contrary, in accordance with the practice of his 
Master, ignores, without denying, the existence of 
a Supremo Deity, and insists that man should by his 
own exertions free himself from vice, and by his own 
virtue win happiness here and hereafter, As it is 
said in the Dkaihmapada \ 

\\\ ourselvea is evil done, 

Bj ourselves we pain endure, 
liv ourselves we cease from irroi 

By ourselves become we pore. 

No one Bares oi bol oonel 

No one can and no on.' may, 
\\v onxaelvei motl tread Hie Path : 

Boddhai only show the way. 

Th« same self-reliant doctrine is taught at this day 
in Burma, where ' each man i> responsible for himself, 

each man is the maker of himself. Only he can <\o 
himself good by good thoughts, by good acts; only 
li«- can hurt himself by evil intentions and deeds 1 .' 
The Buddhist attitude is akin to the Stoic, and directly 
opposed to bhe Christian. 

So much exposition may suffice to enable the reader 
to understand the general nature of the Buddhist 
dhamma, or Law of Piety, as taught by Asoka. 
Special topics of the doctrine will be discussed later, 
as occasion arises. 

1 Fielding Hall, Tlie Soul of a People, p. 226. Contrast the 
teaching of the Church Catechism: 'My good Child, know 
this, that thou art not able to do those tilings of thyself, nor to 


The fact is undoubted that Asoka was both monk 
and monarch a L the same time. The belief held by 
some learned writers that he had abdicated before he 
assumed the monastic robe is untenable, being opposed 
to the plain testimony of the edicts. We have seen 
that the earliest of them, unquestionably issued by 
Asoka as sovereign, expressly states that at the time 
of issue (b. c. 257) he had been for more than a year 
exerting himself strenuously as a member of the 
Buddhist Samgka, or Order of Monks, the organized 
monastic Church, of which the sovereign had assumed 
the headship. Throughout his reign he retained the 
position of Head of the Church and Defender of the 
Faith. His latest proclamations, the Minor Pillar 
Edicts, issued at some time during the last ten years 
of the reign, exhibit him as actively engaged in pro- 
tecting the Church against the dangers of schism and 
issuing his orders for the disciplinary punishment of 
schismatics. In the Bhabra Edict, seemingly of early 
date, we find him describing himself as ' King of 
Magadha,' and using his royal authority in order to 
recommend to his subjects seven favourite passages 
selected by himself from the sacred books x . That 
edict was recorded on a boulder within the precincts 
of a monastery on the top of a hill in Rajputana, and 
the presumption is that the sovereign was residing in 

walk in the Commandments of God, and to serve him, without 
his special grace.' 

1 The correct reading is Mdgadhe, agreeing with Idjd, and 
not Mdgadham, agreeing with Samgham (Bloch). 

C 2 


the monastery when be issued the orders, which are 
on record there only. A copy of the Minor Rock 
Edict I in which he gives a summary of his early 
religious history is engraved on a rock at the foot of 
another hill close by. The inscriptions give no sup- 
port to the late legends which represent bhe greal 
emperor as a dotard in his old age, and suggest that 
he abdicated his sovereign functions. His authentic 
records show him to have been the same man through- 
out his career from 157 totheend,a zealous Buddhist, 
and at the same time a watchful, vigorous, autocratic 
ruler of Church and Stat.-. 

How did he manage to reconcile the vows and 
practices of a Buddhist monk with the duties and 
responsibilities of the sovereign of an enormou- 
empire 1 It is not possible to give a complete answer, 
but fairly satisfactory explanations can be presented. 
The pilgrim I-tsing in the seventh century notes that 
the statue of Asoka represented him as wearing a 
monk's robe of a particular pattern 1 . He does not 
seem to have been offended by any incongruity in the 
situation, and his attitude may be explained by the 
fact that he knew a Chinese Emperor to have done 
the same thing. It is recorded that Kao-tsu Wu-ti 
(alias Hsiao-Yen), the first emperor of the Liang 
dynasty, who reigned from A. D. 502 to 549, was 
1 a devout Buddhist, living upon priestly fare and 
taking only one meal a day ; and on two occasions, in 

1 Takakusu, translation of T-tsing, A Rrc<»-rf of Bttddhisi 

Practices, p. 73. 


527 and 529, he actually adopted the priestly garb 1 .' 
Du Halde relates of this emperor that — 

■ He was not without eminent qualities, being active, 
laborious, and vigilant ; he managed all his affairs himself, 
and dispatched them with wonderful readiness ; he was skilled 
in almost all the sciences, particularly the military art, and 
was so severe upon himself, and so thrifty, as 'tis said, that 
the same cap served him three years ; his fondness at last for 
the whimsical conceits of the bonzes carried him so far as to 
neglect intirely the concerns of the State, and to become 
in effect a bonze himself; he put out an edict forbidding to 
kill oxen or sheep even for the sacrifices, and appointed 
ground corn to be offered instead of beasts 2 .' 

A large part of Du Halde's description applies 
accurately to Asoka, but I see no reason to believe 
that the Indian monarch resembled his Chinese 
imitator in entirely neglecting affairs of State during 
his later years. 

However exact or inexact the parallel may be in 
detail, it holds good for the main fact that both,' Asoka 
and Wu-ti succeeded somehow in combining the 
duties of monk and monarch/ 

A slightly less exact parallel to Asoka's action is 
offered by the case of the Jain Kumarapala, King of 
Gujarat in the twelfth century, who assumed the title 
of { Lord of the Order,' and at various periods of his 
reign took vows of continence, temperance, abstention 
from animal food, and refraining from confiscation of 

1 Giles, Chinese Literature (1901), p. 133. 

2 Du Halde, History of China, Engl, transl., 3rd. ed. (London, 
1741), vol. i, p. 381. 


the property of the faithful. Indued, the whole story 
of Kum&rapala's proceedings after his conversion to 
Jainism offers the best possible commentary on the 
history of Asoka '. 

The Legend of Vitasoka, the hermit brother of 
Asoka according to one form of the story, who was 
permitted to beg his alma within the palace precis 
is good evidence to show that people won- accustomed 
to arrangements making asceticism easy for princes - '. 

We must farther remember that the Buddhist a 

monv (upaaampadd) of full admission to the Order, 

commonly, but inaccurately, called 'ordination,' does 
not convey indelible •order.-' or involve a lifelong 
vow. In both Burma and Ceylon men commonly 
enter the Order temporarily, and after a time, long 
or short, resume civil life. Asoka could have done 
i he same, as Wu-ti afterwards did in China, and 
a proceeding easy for an ordinary man is doubly easy 
for an emperor. In short, although we do not know 
the details of the arrangements by which Asoka 
reconciled hifl monastic obligation- with his duti< 
Bovereign, we know as a fact that he arranged the 

1 Btihler, Ueber das /.</»/■ du Jaina MOnchea Kemockandra 
(Wien, 1889), pp. 29-42. 

1 -Jl se mii ii parconrir en mendiant les appartemont- 
interieurs, mail il recevait tie trfea bons aliments. Le roi dit 
aux femmes des appartementa interieurs : Donnez-lui des 
aliments semblables a ceux que ramassent les Religieux qui 
mendicnt.' (Burnout'. Introduction h VHistoire du Buddhiame 
Tndien, 2* ed.. p. 375, with Burnoufs necessary emenda- 


difficulty somehow, and the parallel cases enable us 
to understand how the business could be settled in 
more ways than one 1 . 

Having now defined the nature of the dhamma, 
or Law of Piety, which Asoka made it the business of 
his life to preach and propagate, and having shown 
how the apparently inconsistent roles of monk and 
monarch could be reconciled in practice, we may 
resume his life story. We have seen that his ninth 
'regnal year' (b, c. 261) was the turning-point of his 
career, that he then began to love, protect, and preach 
the Buddhist Law of Piety as a lay disciple, and that 
two and a half years later he assumed the monastic 
robe, abolished the Royal Hunt, and instituted ' pious 
tours. ' 

The memory of such a ' pious tour ' in his twenty- 
first ' regnal year ' (b. c. 249) is preserved by the 
commemorative records on the Rummindei and Nigiiva 
pillars in the Nepalese Tarai, where there is reason to 
believe that other similar pillars exist. Those records 
prove that Asoka visited the ' Lumbini garden/ the 
traditional scene of the birth of Gautama Buddha, 
and also paid reverence to the tstdpa of Konakamaua, 
or Kanakamuni, the ' former Buddha,' which he had 
already enlarged six years earlier. It is interesting 

1 Bodoahpra, the ferocious king of Burma, who reigned from 
1 78 1 to 1 819, and claimed descent from Asoka (Phayre, History 
of Burma, 1884, p. 235), proclaimed himself to be a Buddha, 
and dwelt for some time in a monastery, but tired of it, 
resumed power, and reverted to his evil ways (Calc. Rev., 1872, 
p. 136). 

4 o ASOK. / 

to learn that the cult of the ■ former Buddbas, ' 
a subject imperfectly understood, was already well 
established is Asoka's days, but no one can tell how 
or when it originated. 

The memory of the Bame pilgrimage was preserved 
also by literary tradition, as recorded in the Sanskrit 
romance called the Aaokdvadfaha. According to the 
story, which will be found in a later chapter, the 
king, under fche guidance of his preceptor, a saint 
named Dpagupta, visited in succession the bambini 
garden, Etapilavastu, the Beene of Buddha's childhood, 
Hi. Bodhi tree at Bodli I tayft, Etishipattana, or Sarnath, 
near Benares, Eusinagara, where IWiddha died, the 
Jetavana monastery at Sravasti, where he long resided, 
the BtiXpa of Vakkula. and the etiipa of Ananda. The 
words graven on the Rummindei pillar, 'Here the 
Venerable One was born," are those ascribed by the 
tradition to Upagupta as Bpoken when he guided bis 
royal master to the holy spot. Asoka bestowed great 
largess at every place except the Mpa of Vakkula, 
where he gave only a single copper coin, because that 
saint had met with few obstacles to surmount, and 
had consequently done little good to his fellow 
creatures. The explanation accords well with the 
severely practical character of Asoka's piety l . 

1 Rummindei on the Tilar river certainly is the site of fche 
Lumbini garden (see Plate II). The Kapilavastu visited by 
Hiuen Tsang is represented by Tilaura Kot (Mukherji and 
V. A. Smith, Antiguitiea in the Tardi, Nepdl; Archaeol. S. Rep. 
Imp, >'.. vol . xxvi, 1901 ). Bodh Gaya, six miles south of < Java. U 


The preceptor Upagupta, who probably converted 
Asoka, as Hemachandra converted Kumarapala in 
a later age, seems to have been a real historical 
personage. The famous monastery at Mathura which 
bore his name appears to have been situated at the 
Kankali Tila, a Buddhist as well as a Jain site, and 
his memory was also associated with various local- 
ities in Sind. He is said to have been the son of 
Gupta the perfumer. In the traditions of Ceylon his 
place is taken by Tissa, the son of Mogali, who should 
be regarded as a fictitious person made up from the 
names of Buddha's two principal disciples, as in- 
geniously argued by Colonel Waddell l . 

The eleventh ' regnal year ' (b. c. 259), memorable 

well known . The interesting discoveries lately made at Sarnath 
include an important new edict of Asoka (see post). The site 
of Kusinagara has not been finally determined. I believe it to 
have been near Tribeni Ghat, where the Little Rapti joins the 
Gandak (E. Hist. India, 2nd ed., p. 148 n.). See also the author's 
work, The Remains near Kasia, the reputed Site of Kucanagara 
(Allahabad, 1896) ; ' Kusinara or Kusinagara,' J. R. A. S., 1902 ; 
Archaeol. S., Annual Rep., 1904-5. The site of Sravastiis disputed. 
I still believe it to be in Nepalese territory on the upper course 
of the Rapti; but co7itra,Yogel, 'The siteof Sravasti,'*/. R. A. S., 
1908, p. 971. The curious legend of Bakkula or Yakkula is 
told in the Bahhida-sutta (J. R.A. S., 1903, p. 373). There were 
two stupas of Ananda, one on each side of the Ganges (Legge, 
Travels o/Fa-hien, ch. xxvi ; Hiuen Tsang). For the Asokdvaddna 
see Burnouf, Introduction a VHistoire du Buddhisme, or Rajen- 
dralal Mitra, Sanskrit Nepalese Literature. 

1 Mr. Growse placed the Upagupta monastery at the Kankali 
mound {Mathura, 3rd ed., p. 122). For references to other 
books and papers see Asoka's 'Father-Confessor' in bid. Ant., 
1903, P. 365. 


as the date from which Asoka began to exert himself 
strenuously as Head of the Church and prophet of 
the dhaihma, was marked, not only by the abolition 
of the Royal Hunt and the substitution of tours de- 
voted to works of piety for the pleasure excursions of 
other days, l>ut by b muoh more important measure, 
the most important ever taken by Asoka. and one 
which to this day bean much fruit. In or about the 
year mentioned he took the momentous resolution of 
organizing a network of preaching missions to spread 
the teaching of his -Master, not only throughout and 
on the borders of his own wide empire, but in tin' 
distant regions of Western Asia. Eastern Europe, and 
Northern Africa. Hook Edict XIII. published with 
the rest of the Fourteen Rock Edicts in the fourteenth 
•regnal year' (b.o. 256), gives a detailed list of the 
countries to which the imperial missionaries of tin- 
Law of Piety had been dispatched. Weare told that 
His Majesty sought the conversion of even the wild 
forest bribes, and that missions were sent to the 
nations on the borders of his empire, who are enu- 
merated as the Yonas, K&mbojas, Nabhapamtis of 
N&bhaka, Bhojas, Pitenikas, Andhras, and Pulindas, 
that is to say. various more or less civilized tribes 
occupying the slopes of the Himalaya, the regions 
beyond the Indus, and parts of the Deccanand Central 
India, which were under imperial control, although 
not included in the settled provinces administered by 
the emperor or his viceroys. Envoys were also sent 
to the Chola and Pandya kingdoms of the extreme 


south of the peninsula and to the island of Ceylon, 
which were wholly independent. But these opera- 
tions, extensive though they were, did not satisfy 
the zeal of Asoka, who ventured to send his prosely- 
tizing agents far beyond the limits of India, into 
the dominions of Antiochos Theos, King of Syria and 
Western Asia (b. c. 261-246); Ptolemy Philadelphos,, 
King of Egypt (b. c. 285-247) ; Magas, King of Cyrene 
in Northern Africa, half-brother of Ptolemy (about 
b. c. 285-258), Antigonos Gonatas, King of Macedonia 
(b. c. 277-239), and Alexander, King of Epirus (ace. 
b. c. 272). Rock Edict V adds to the list of border 
nations given above the names of the Rashtrikas of 
the Maratha country, and the Gandharas of the 
Peshawar frontier, noting that there were yet others 
unnamed ; while Rock Edict II, which again names 
Antiochos, with a reference to his Hellenistic neigh- 
bours, as well as the Cholas, Pandyas, and Ceylon, 
adds the Satiyaputra and Keralaputra kingdoms of 
the Western coast to the catalogue of countries in 
which curative arrangements for man and beast were 
carried out. The date of the missions is fixed ap- 
proximately by the fact that the year B. c. 258 is the 
latest in which all the Greek sovereigns named were 
alive together. The statements in the two edicts quoted 
constitute almost the whole of the primary and 
absolutely trustworthy evidence concerning Asoka's 
missionary organization. 

The Ceylonese chronicles, the earliest of which was 
composed by Buddhist monks about six centuries 


after the Edicts, give a different list of countries and 
add the names of the missionaries as follows : — 

Cou ntnj . Misav.nar im. 

i. Kashmir and Gandhara Peshawar, &c) ftfajjhantika. 

2. Mahisainanclala Mysc.iv Maliad<va. 

3. Vanavasi (North Kannara Bakkhita. 

4. Aparantaka (coasi north of Bombaj Y<>na-I)liannarakkhita. 

5. Maliarattha Wesi Central India Malia- I)hann;uakkhita. 

& Tona region N".W. frontier prorincee BCaharakkhita. 

7. llimavauta (Ik Himalayan region Majjhima, Kasaapa, fee. 

8. Suvannabhumi Pegu and atoulmein Sons and Qttara. 

9. Lanka Ceylon Bfahinda B£ahendra),&c 

All the Dames of oountriee in this list, except No. 8, 

can be easily reconciled with the differently worded 
enumeration in the inscriptions. The inclusion of 
No. 8, Suvannabhumi, which is identified by the best 
authorities with the Pegu ami Ifoulmein territories 00 

the shores of the Gulf of Martaban, is I believe an 
error. The latest researches indicate that Burma, as 
a halfway house between India and China, first re- 
ceived Buddhism during the fourth century A. D. in 
two streams converging from China on one side and 
northern India on the other, and that the connexion 
between the Churches of Ceylon and Burma dates from 
a time much later \ 

The exclusion of the Hellenistic kingdoms from the 
Ceylon list is easily explained when we remember that 
those kingdoms had ceased to exist centuries before 
that list was compiled. The omission of the Tamil 

1 The argument is worked out at length in the author's essay, 
1 Asoka's alleged Mission to Pegu (Suvannabhumi).' huh Ant., 
xxxiv (1905). pp. 180-6), and is carried further in Mr. Taw 
Sein Ko's Progress Report oj the Archaeol, 8. Burma for 1905-6. 


countries of Southern India may be ascribed to the 
secular hostility between the Sinhalese and the Tamils 
of the mainland, which naturally would indispose the 
oppressed Sinhalese to recognize the ancestors of their 
oppressors as having been brothers in the faith. The 
island monks were eager to establish the derivation of 
their religion direct from Magadha through the agency 
of Mahinda and his mythical sister, and had no desire 
to recall the bygone days of friendly intercourse with 
the hated Tamils. Sound principles of historical 
criticism require that when the evidence of the in- 
scriptions differs from that of later literary traditions, 
the epigraphic authority should be preferred without 
hesitation, and there is no reason to doubt the reality 
of the missions to the Tamil kingdoms of the south. 

The Ceylon tradition as to the names of the mission- 
aries is partially confirmed by Cunningham's dis- 
coveries at the Bhilsa topes or stvupas near Sanchi, 
which included relic caskets bearing the name of 
' Kasapa Gota, missionary (dchariya) of the whole 
Hemavanta,' or Himalayan region. Other caskets 
bore the name of Majjhima 1 . But when the chronicler 
ascribes to the monk Tissa, son of Mogali, all the credit 
for the organization of the missions, and ignores Asoka, 
we are clearly bound to apply the principle of preferring 
the authority of the contemporary inscriptions, and to 
allow Asoka the honour of having personally organized, 

1 Bhilsa Topes, pp. 287, 289, 31 7, pi. xx. The finding of a casket 
inscribed Mogaliputasa does not establish the real existence of 
the Ceylonese Tissa, son of Mogali, as distinct from Upagupta. 

46 A SDK A 

with the aid of his enormous imperial power, the most 
comprehensive scheme of religious missionary enterprise 
recorded in the history of the world. The scheme was 
not only comprehensive but successful. It resulted in 
Buddhism quickly becoming the dominant religion 
throughout India and Ceylon, and in its ultimate 
extension over Burma, Siam, Cambodia, the Indian 
Archipelago, China, Korea, Japan, Mongolia, Tibet, 
and other countries of Asia. In some of these coum 
Buddhism did not effect its entry until centuries after 
the time of Asoka. but the diffusion of the religion in 
them all was duo to the impetus given by the great 
Buddhist emperor of India, who transformed the creed 
of a local Indian sect into a world-religion, the most 
important of all the religions, perhaps, if the numbers 
of its adherents be taken as the teal 

The obvious comparison of Asoka with Constantine 
suggests the thought that the action of the Indian 
monarch was far more influential than that of the 
Roman emperor, whose official patronage of Chris- 
tianity was lather an actof tardy and politic submission 
to a force already irresistible than the willing devotion 
of an enthusiastic believer 1 . If Constantine had not 

1 ' When Constantine, partly perhaps from a genuine moral 
sympathy, yet doubtless far more in the well-grounded belief 
that he had more to gain from the zealous sympathy of it- 
professors than he could lose by the aversion of those who still cul- 
tivated a languid paganism, took Christianity to be the religion 
of the empire, it was already a great political force, able, and 
not more able than willing, to repay him by aid and submission* 
(Freeman. Holy Roman Empire (1892), p. 10). 


adopted the Christian creed himself, his successors 
would have been compelled to do so, but if Asoka had 
withheld his heartfelt adherence to the teaching of 
Buddha there is no reason to suppose that the doctrine 
had strength enough to impose itself upon the faith 
of India and half of the civilized world. Gautama 
Buddha lived, moved, and died within a small territory 
in and near Magadha, and there is no indication that 
during the interval (b. c. 487-259) which elapsed 
between his death and the dispatch of missions by 
Asoka the Buddhist teaching had made any great noise 
in the world or was known beyond very narrow 
limits, nor is there any reason to believe that Asoka 
was constrained by political reasons to make a virtue 
of necessity and yield to the demands of an imperious 
priesthood. We watch in the personal records drafted 
by himself the gradual growth of his sincere convictions 
and the orderly development of the policy which con- 
secrated his immense autocratic power and diplomatic 
influence as the sovereign of one of the greatest empires 
in the world to the service of the religion which 
had captured his heart and intellect. 

An abstract of the monastic legends of Ceylon 
and India which purport to describe the conversion 
of Ceylon will be found in Chapters VI and VII. 
They cannot be accepted as history, and, in reality, 
the conversion of the island must have been a process 
much slower then it is represented to have been. 
But we do not possess any authoritative account of 
what actually happened. The only references to 


Ceylon in the edicts are those already cited, which 
simply mention the island as one of the foreign 
friendly kingdoms to which missionaries were 
dispatched and in which Asoka was permitted 
to extend his system of curative arrangements for 
man and beast. I disbelieve wholly in the tale 
of SanghamitiA. the supposed daughter of Asoka. 
Her name, which meanfl ' Friend of the Order,' is 
extremely suspicious, and the inscriptions give no 
indication of her existence. Professor Oldenberg has 
much justification for his opinion that the story of 
Mahinda and Ids sister seems to have been — 

'invented for tlie purpose of possessing a history of the 
Buddhist institutions in the island, and to connect it with the 
most distinguished person conceivable — the great Asoka. 
The historical legend is fond of poetically exalting ordinary 

occurrences into great and brilliant actions ; we may assume 
that, in reality, tilings were accomplished in a more gradual 
and less striking manner than such legends make them 
appear 1 .' 

The naturalization in Ceylon of the immense mass 
of Buddhist literature now existing in Pali and, 
I believe, also in Sinhalese, must necessarily have 
been a work of time, and would seem to be the 
fruit of long and continuous intercourse between 
Ceylon and the adjacent parts of India, rather than 
the sudden result of direct communication with 
Magadha. The statements of the Chinese pilgrims 
in the fifth and seventh centuries prove that Asoka's 

1 Introduction to the Vinayopitakam, p. 4 (ii . 


efforts to propagate Buddhism in the far South were 
not in vain, and that monastic institutions existed 
in the Tamil countries which were in a position to 
influence the faith of the island. Hiuen Tsang 
mentions one stwpa in the Chola country, and 
another in the Dravida or Pallava kingdom as being 
ascribed to Asoka. Still more significant is his 
description of the state of religion in A. D. 640 in 
the Malakuta Pandya country to the south of the 
Kaviri (Cauvery), where he found that — 

' Some follow the true doctrine, others are given to heresy 
They do not esteem learning much, but are wholly given to 
commercial gain. There are the ruins of many old convents, 
but only the walls are preserved, and there are few religious 
followers. There are many hundred Deva [Brahmanical] 
temples, and a multitude of heretics, mostly belonging to the 
Nirgranthas [Jains]. 

Not far to the east of this city [the unnamed capital, 
1 Madura] is an old sanghdrdma [monastery] of which the 
vestibule and court are covered with wild shrubs ; the 
foundation walls only survive. This was built by Mahendra, 
the younger brother of Asoka-raja. 

To the east of this is a stupa, the lofty walls of which 
are buried in the earth, and only the crowning part of the 
cupola remains. This was built by Asoka-raja V 

This interesting passage, which shows how vivid 
the traditions of Asoka and his brother continued 

1 Beal, Records of the Western World, ii. 231; instead of ' only 
the walls are preserved,' Watters renders ' very few monasteries 
were in preservation,' which agrees with the context and seems 
to be correct (On Yuan Chtvang, ii. 228). 



to be in the suutli after the lapse oi' nine centuries, 
and locates Mahendra in a monastery to the south 
of the Kavii i, within easy reach of Ceylon, goes a 
long way to support the hypothesis that Mahendra 
really passed over to the island from a southern 
port on the mainland. That hypothesis is certainly 
much more probable than the Ceylonese story that 
he came living through the air, ' as Hies the king 
of swans.' Nor is it likely that his first discourse 
converted the king and forty thousand of his 

But, notwithstanding the mythology which has 
gathered round his name, Mahendra or Mahinda, 
the younger brother of Asoka, was a real, historical 
}h Tsonage, and there can be no doubt that he was 
a pioneer in the diffusion of Buddhism in Ceylon. 
The concurrence of Indian and Ceylonese traditions, 
and the existence of monuments bearing his name 
both in the island and on the mainland do not 
permit of scepticism as to his reality. But the 
Ceylonese version of the story which represents him 
a- an illegitimate son of Asoka is unsupported, and 
is opposed to the Indian tradition as current in both 
Northern and Southern India, at Pataliputra and 
at Kanchi (Conjee veram), and reported by Fa-hien 
at the beginning of the fifth century, as well as by 
Hiuen Tsang in A. D. 640. Even the monks of 
Ce3 7 lon, who met the later pilgrim at Kanchi, and 
told him the accepted legend of the conversion of 
their country, knew Mahendra as the younger 


brother, not the son of Asoka 1 . It is obvious that 
the true form of the tradition was more likely to 
survive at Pataliputra, the ancient capital, than 
anywhere else, and Fa-hien when there about A. d. 400 
heard anecdotes concerning Asoka's hermit brother ~, 
who is named Mahendra by Hiuen Tsang. Other 
forms of the legend call him Vitasoka or Vigatasoka, 
but the evidence of the monuments in India and 
Ceylon fixes his name as Mahendra or Mahinda. 

The assumption of the monastic robe by the 
emperor's younger brother, or rather half-brother 
on the mother's side, was quite in accordance with 
precedent and rule. ' According to the laws of 
India,' says a Chinese historian, ' when a king dies, 
he is succeeded by his eldest son (Kumdrardja) ; the 
others leave the family and embrace a religious life, 
and they are no longer allowed to reside in their 
native kingdom 3 .' In Tibet the rule was varied 
in the case of the famous king Ral-pa-chan (died 
A. D. 838), who allowed his elder brother, Gtsang-ma, 
to enter the Order, and was succeeded by his younger 
brother 4 . Other parallel cases might be cited to 
justify the assertion of Prof. Jacobi that ' the 
spiritual career in India, just as the Church in 
"Roman Catholic countries, seems to have offered 
a field for the ambition of younger sons V We may 

1 Beal, Life of Hiuen Tsiany, p. 144. 

2 Legge, Travels of Fa-hien, p. 77, chap, xxvii. 

3 Ma-twan-lin in Ind. Ant., ix. 22. 

4 Rockhill, Life of the Buddha, p. 225. 5 S, B. E., xxii, p. 15. 

B 2 


feel assured that Mahcndra or Mahinda, the apostle 
of Ceylon, was the brother, not the son of Asoka. 
As to the conversion of the king and people of the 
island, my opinion is that it was only begun by 
Mahcndra, that Sanghamitni his supposed sister 
never existed, and that the chroniclers' accounts 
of Mahendra's proceedings should be treated as 
edifying romances resting on a basis of fact, the 
extent of which cannot be determined precisely. 

The thirteenth and fourteenth 'regnal years 
(i.e. 2/57, 256) were busy ones for Asoka, marking 
great advance in his spiritual development and 
religious policy. Two (Nos. Ill ami IV) of the 
Fourteen Rock Edicts are expressly dated in the 
thirteenth, while No. V is dated in the fourteenth 
'regnal year.* in the Idealities where all the four- 
teen edicts occur it is clear that the whole set wai 
engraved at once. The publication, therefore, may be 
dated in B.C. 236. The two special Kalinga Edicts, 
which were substituted in the newly conquered 
province for Nos. XI-XIII of the series, may be 
assigned to the same period, which also witnessed the 
dedication of costly caves in the Barabar Hills near 
Gaya to the use of the non- Buddhist Ajivika ascetics 
and the institution of quinquennial official circuits for 
the purpose of public instruction in the Law of Piety 1 . 
Officers of all ranks, when touring in their several 
jurisdictions were directed to undertake the business 
of propaganda in addition to their ordinary duties. 
1 Rock Edict III. 


The Kalinga Provincials' Edict, by a supplementary 
clause, modified the general orders and instructed 
the Princes of Ujjain and Taxila to have the 
circuits performed at intervals of three years only. 
Elaborate arrangements were made for ensuring full 
publicity to the royal commands. 

Another important administrative measure was 
taken in the fourteenth ' regnal year ' (b. c. 2,56) by 
the appointment for the first time of special officers 
of high rank, entitled Dharma-mahdmdtras, that is 
to say, mahdmdtras, or Superior officials, exclusively 
engaged in the enforcement of the edicts concerning 
dharma, or the Law of Piety, and additional to 
the ordinary civil mahdmdtras. These officers may 
be described conveniently as Censors, and similar 
appointments have been made under the name of 
Dharmddhikdris in Kashmir and other Hindu states 
in modern times 1 . Asoka attached high importance 
to the organization of the body of Censors, who 
received very comprehensive instructions to enforce 
the Law of Piety among all religious denominations, 
among the Yonas and other border tribes, and even 
in the households of the sovereign's brothers, sisters, 
and other relatives 2 . They were assisted by subordi- 
nate officials termed Dharmayuktas 3 . 

In the following year (fifteenth ' regnal,' B. c. 255) 

1 Ind. Ant., xxxii (1903), p. 365. The word ' minister' would 
be a good rendering of mahdmdtra, in some cases at all events. 

2 Rock Edict V, Pillar Edict VII. 

3 The subordinate civil officials were known simply as yulctas, 
or di/uktas. 


Asoka enlarged for the second time the stdpa of 
the 'former Buddha' Konakamana, or Kanakamuni, 
which he visited personally six years later. The 
relation of the cult of the ' former Buddhaa ' to the 
religion of Gautama, as already observed, is a subject 
concerning which very little is known. 

In the twentieth ' regnal year,' B. 0. 250, the 
sovereign presented a third costly rock- dwelling to 
the Ajivikas ; and in the year following, B.O. 249, 
made the pilgrimage to the holy plao< m of Buddhism 
already noticed. The dated record is then interrupted 
until the twenty-Seventh 'regnal year.' B.C. 243, when 
Pillar Edict VI, dealing with the necessity that every 
man should have a definite need, was composed. 
The dated series of inscriptions as discovered up to 
the present terminates in B.o. 242 with Pillar Edict 
VII, comprising ten distinct sections or separate 
edicts, and giving a comprehensive review of the 
measures taken during the reign for the propagation 
of the Law of Piety. 

The Minor Pillar Edicts of Sarnath. Allahabad- 
Kausambi. and Sanchi must be later in date because 
the position and mode of engraving the Queen's and 
Kausambi Edicts on the Allahabad pillar, which 
evidently was removed from Kausambi, indicate 
clearly that the short records are supplementary and 
posterior to the main series of Pillar Edicts on the 
same monument. The Kausambi and Sanchi docu- 
ments are merely variants of the Sarnath Edict. 
The Queen's Edict treats of another subject. 


Inasmuch as the Sarnath Edict and its variants 
deal with the disciplinary punishment to be inflicted 
on schismatic persons and emphatically declare the 
imperial resolve that no rending in twain of the 
Church should be permitted, it is reasonable to con- 
nect those orders with the Buddhist Council which 
tradition affirms to have been convened by Asoka at 
his capital for the purpose of suppressing heresy. 
The Ceylonese books date the Council either sixteen 
or eighteen years after the consecration of Asoka, but 
that date must be erroneous, because if the Council 
had been convened before the twenty-eighth ' regnal 
year,' it would surely have been mentioned in the 
seventh Pillar Edict, which reviews all the measures 
taken up to that date by the sovereign for the ad- 
vancement of the Law of Piety. The Council, however, 
may well have taken place in any one of the ten or 
eleven years intervening between the last dated edict 
and the close of the reign. It is said in various 
traditions to have been concerned with the overthrow 
of heresy, and if there be any truth in that story, the 
Sarnath Edict and its variants may be regarded as 
embodying the resolution of the Council, and may be 
dated in one or other of the years near the end of the 
reign 1 . 

1 The value of the traditions of the Councils is discussed at 
length in the author's essay 'The Identity of Piyadasi (Priya- 
darsin) with Asoka Maurya and some connected Problems,' 
J. R. A. S. t 1901, pp. 842-58 ; and also by M. Poussin in Ind. 
Ant., 1908, and by Professor R. Otto Franke (transl, Mrs, Rhys 


Having thus traced Asoka's religious history in 
chronological order as far as positive dates are avail- 
able, we shall now proceed to discuss certain features 
of his policy which cannot be treated with equal 
chronological accuracy. Several edicts record the 
successive steps taken by the king to give effect to the 
principle of the sanctity of animal life, which was one 
of his cardinal doctrines. In the early years of hi^ 
reign Asoka was not troubled by any scruples on the 
subject, and he oonfeeaei in the first Rock Edict, it is 
to be hoped with some exaggeration, that ' formerly 
in the kitchen of his Sacred and (Jracious Majesty 
each day many hundred thousand of living creatures 
were slaughtered to make curries.' Afterwards, pre- 
sumably from the time when he became a lay disciple, 
or, perhaps, from the eleventh 'regnal year,' the 
slaughter was reduced to ' two peacocks and one ante- 
lope—the antelope, however, not invariably.' From 
the thirteenth ' regnal year ' all killing for the royal 
table was stopped. The same edict prohibits at the 
capital the celebration of animal sacrifices and merry- 
makings involving the use of meat, but in the 
provinces such practices apparently continued to be 
lawful. The suppression of the Royal Hunt some 
two years later than his conversion marked an inter- 
mediate stage in the monarch's growing devotion to 
his favourite doctrine. The final development of his 

Davids) in J. Pali Text S'or., 1908. Any attempt to recon- 
struct a narrative of the actual proceedings of the Council from 
the conflicting traditions is hopeless. 


policy in this matter is defined by Pillar Edict V, 
dated b. c. 343, which lays down an elaborate code of 
regulations restricting the slaughter and mutilation of 
animals throughout the empire. Those regulations 
were imposed on all classes of the population without 
distinction of creed, social customs, or religious senti- 
ment. * A long list was published of animals the 
slaughter of which was absolutely prohibited, and 
other rules prescribed restrictions on the slaughter 
of animals permitted to be killed, and prohibited or 
limited the practice of different kinds of mutilation. 
Asoka could not venture to absolutely forbid the 
castration of bulls, he-goats, rams and boars, but he 
regarded the practice as unholy, and prohibited it on 
all holy days, amounting to about a quarter of the year. 
The branding of horses and cattle was treated in the 
same spirit. On fifty- six days the capture or sale of 
fish was prohibited, and on the same days, even in 
game preserves, animals might not be destroyed. The 
caponing of cocks was declared to be absolutely 
unlawful at all times. 

\ The practical working of such minutely detailed 
rules must have been almost intolerably vexatious, 
and they cannot fail to have pressed with painful 
harshness upon people who believed sacrifice on certain 
days to be necessary to salvation and on many classes 
of the working population. The insistence on the 
display of energy by the Censors and all classes of 
officials in carrying out the imperial commands must 
have produced a crowd of informers and an immense 



amount of tyranny. Regard for the sanctity of animal 

life, even that of the meanest vermin, is not peculiar 
to Buddhism, being practised even more strictly by 
the Jains, and esteem* -d more or less highly by most 
Brahmanical Hindus. It rests on the theory of re- 
birth, which underlies nearly all forms of Indian 
religion, and binds together in one chain all classes 
of living creatures, whether gods or demi-gods, angels 
or demons, men or animals. But, although that 
doctrine had been familiar to the mind of India for 
ages, its strict enforcement to a certain extent as part 
of the civic duty of every loyal subject, irrespective 
of his personal religious belief, was a new thing, and 
imposed a nov«'l burden on the lieges. The regula- 
tions must have h;id permanent influence in obtaining 
the general acceptance of ideas formerly restricted to 
sections of the population. / It is noteworthy that 
Asoka's rules do not forbid the slaughter of cows, 
which, apparently, continued to be lawful. The 
problem of the origin of the intense feeling of reverence 
for the cow, now felt by all Hindus, is a very curious 
one and still unsolved. The early Brahmans did not 
share the sentiment. 

The doctrine of the duty of reverence to parents, 
seniors, and teachers seems to have held in Asoka's 
eyes a place second only to that of the sanctity of 
animal life. It is reiterated over and over again in 
the Edicts, but no development of the principle is 

The sanctity attaching to the life of the most in- 


significant insect was not extended to the life of man. 
The monkish legend that Asoka abolished the death 
penalty is not true. His legislation proves that the 
idea of such abolition never entered his thoughts, and 
that like other Buddhist monarchs, he regarded the 
extreme penalty of the law as an unavoidable neces- 
sity, which might be made less horrible than it had 
been, but could not be dispensed with. Late in his 
reign, in B. c. 243, he published an ordinance that 
every prisoner condemned to death should invariably 
be granted before execution a respite of three days 
in which to prepare himself for the next world. This 
slight mitigation of the usual practice of Indian 
despots, whose sentence was commonly followed by 
instant or almost instant execution, is all that Asoka 
claims credit for. The inferior value attaching to 
human as compared with animal life presumably is 
due to the fact that men are responsible for their 
deeds while animals are not. In later times Hindu 
Rajas have not hesitated to execute a man for killing 
a beast, and it is unlikely that Asoka was less severe. 
One of tke most noticeable features in the teaching 
of Asoka is the enlightened religious toleration which 
is so frequently and emphatically recommended. If 
we are right in regarding Minor Rock Edict I as the 
earliest in date of all the inscriptions, some progress 
in his attitude towards toleration may perhaps be 
traced. That document records with exultation the 
monarch's belief that his strenuous exertion had pro- 
duced as its fruit the result that ' the men (sell, the 

60 A SOMA 

Brahmans) who wen-, all over India, regarded as true, 
have been with their gods shown to bo untrue.' Such 
language has the appearance of having been prompted 
by intemperate zeal. Perhaps it proved to be un- 
popular and dangerous. Certainly it does not recur, 
and the later documents, even those issued apparently 
in the same Year, breathe a different spirit. They 
repeatedly enjoin the duty of almsgiving to Brahman 
as well as Buddhist asoeties: the king, using his 
Master's words, declares all nun to be his children, 
announces his impartial consideration for all denomina- 
tions, including Jains and Ajivikas. and imp!- 
people to abstain from speaking ill of their neighbours 1 
faith. He sees goad in all creeds, and is persuaded 
that men of all faiths perform, at any rate, a part of 
the commandment. So much may be gathered from 
the Fourteen Rock Edicts of B. o. %$y and 256. ' The 
sixth Pillar Edict of is. c. 243 goes a little further 
and insists on the necessity for every person having 
a definite creed. 'I devote my attention,' Asoka 
observes, 'to all communities, for all denomination^ 
are reverenced by me with various forms of reverence. 
Nevertheless, personal adherence to one's own creed 
is the chief thing in my opinion.' These latitudi- 
narian views did not, as we have seen, prevent him 
from imposing very stringent rules of conduct on 
persons of all ranks and classes, irrespective of their 
religious denomination. Men might believe what 
they liked but must do as they were told. 

When we apply to Asoka's policy the word tolera- 


tion with its modern connotation and justly applaud 
the liberality of his sentiments, another qualification 
is needed, and we must remember that in his days no 
really diverse religions existed in India. The creeds of 
Jesus, Zoroaster, and Muhammad were unknown. The 
only organized religion other than Buddhism or Jain- 
ism was Hinduism, and that complex phenomenon at 
all times is more accurately described as a social 
system than by the name of either a religion or a creed. 
When Asoka speaks of the toleration of other men's 
creeds, he is not thinking of exclusive, militant 
religions like Christianity and Islam, but of Hindu 
sects all connected by many links of common senti- 
ment. The dominant theory of rebirth, for instance, 
was held by nearly all. Buddhism and Jainism both 
were originally mere sects of Hinduism — or rather 
schools of philosophy founded by Hindu reformers — 
which in course of time gathered an accretion of 
mythology around the original speculative nucleus, 
and developed into religions. 

Asoka, therefore, was in a position which enabled 
him to realize the idea that all Indian denominations 
were fundamentally in agreement about what he, from 
the practical point of view, calls ' the essence of the 
matter,' all of them alike aiming at self-control and 
purity of life ; and he thus felt fully justified in doing 
honour in various ways to Jains and Brahmanical 
Hindus as well as to Buddhists. While lavishing his 
treasure chiefly on Buddhist shrines and monasteries, 
he did not hesitate to spend large sums in hewing 


out of hard gneiss spacious cave -dwelling! for the 
Ajivika naked ascetics, not even grudging the expense 
of polishing the interiors like a mirror ; and there can 
be no doubt that liberal benefactions were bestowed 
likewise on the Jains and Drahinans. Indeed, Kash- 
mir tradition has preserved the names of Brahmanical 
temples built or restored by Asoka*. Similar tolera- 
tion, evidenced in practice by concurrent endowment 
of various creeds, was practised by later princes. 
Kharavela of Orissa, for instance, used language 
almost identical with that of Asoka, and avowed that 
he did reverence to all creeds 2 . In much more recent 

times the oases of Marsha and many other Rajas who 
acted on the same principle are familiar to students of 
Indian Historx . 

The sentiment which dictated the tolerant conduct 
of the old kings is still accepted, and has been ex- 
pressed by a lady who has penetrated deeply below 
the surface of Indian character : 

'It is natural enough to the Hindu intellect,' bhe observe.*-. 
' that around each such forth-shining of the divine should grow 
lip a Q6W religious system. J Jut each of them LB only a special 

way of expressing the one fundamental doctrine of Maya 
[sail, illusion], a new mode of endearing God to man. At 
the same time it is thought that every one, while recognizing 

1 Stein, transl. Rajatar., Bk. I, vv. 101-7. 

- AcU* da vi""" Congrcs Ixtem. d" Orientalises, t. iii, pp. 

149, 177- 

3 E. Hint. India, 2nd edition, pp. 167, 168, 247, 292, 319, 429. 
But religious persecutions occurred occasionally (ibid., pp. 190, 
191, 319, 410). 


this perfect sympathy of various faiths for one another, 
should know how to choose one among them for his own, and 
persist in it, till by its means he has reached the point where 
the formulae of sects are meaningless to him .... "A man 
has a right to hold his own belief, but never to force it upon 
another" is the dictum that has made of India a perfect 
university of religious culture, including every stage of 
thought and practice.' 

A recent Hindu writer, following the same line of 
thought, lays down the rule : 

' Let every man, so far as in him lieth, help the reading of 
the scriptures, whether those of his own Church or those of 
another 1 / 

Asoka presumably did not believe in the Vedantist 
doctrine of Maya, which forms a bond of union 
between so many Hindu sects, but, nevertheless, his 
theory of the relation which one sect or denomination 
should bear to another, as expressed in Rock Edict XII 
and Pillar Edict VI, agrees exactly with the principles 
formulated by Miss Noble and Pratapa Sirhha 2 . 

Although Asoka unquestionably was familiar with 
a body of sacred Buddhist literature substantially 
identical with a large part of the Pali canonical scrip- 
tures, the teaching of the edicts gives the impression 
of being different from that of most Buddhist works. 
We find no distinct reference to the doctrine of 
karma, or transmitted merit and demerit, nor is any 
allusion made to nirvana, as the goal to be obtained 

1 Miss Noble, The Web of Indian Life, pp. 224, 281. 

2 Pratapa Simha, JBhahta Kalpadruma (1866), transl. Grierson 
(J. R. A. S., 1908, p. 359). 


by the goo<l man. No doubt the emperor believed 
in karma, although he docs not plainly say so, 
and very probably he may have looked forward to 
nlrv<ni<i, although he does not express the hope. His 
precepts, as already observed, are purely practical and 
intended to lead men into the right way of living, not 
into correct philosophical positions. Many passages 
in the edicts indicate that he believed firmly in the 
' other world ' or ' future life.' He tells us, for 
instance (Rook Edict Y 111), that all his exertions were 
directed to the end that he might discharge his debt 
to animate beings, make some of them happy in this 
world, and also enable them in the other world to gain 
heaven 1 . Again (Rock Edict IX), making the same 
contrast, he warns his people that o dinary ritual may 
be of only temporal effect, good for this world alone, 
while the ritual of the Law of Piety produces endless 
merit (punyam) in the other world. The next follow- 
ing edict offers the same promise to those who practise 
the true kind of almsgivings Still more emphatic is 
the declaration near the close of Hock Edict XIII that 
only the things concerning the other world are re- 
garded by His Majesty as bearing much fruit, and he 
concludes by adjuring his descendants to place all their 
joy in efforts which avail for both this world and the 
next. The warning given in the Provincials' Edict to 
negligent officials in Kalinga is couched in the follow- 
ing remarkable terms : — 

1 'In this world, 1 literally 'here'; 'in the other world,' 
literally ' on the other side ' ; ' heaven,' svarga. 


' See to my commands ; such and such are the instructions 
of His Sacred Majesty. Fulfilment of these bears great fruit, 
non-fulfilment brings great calamity. By those who fail 
neither heaven (svarga) nor the royal favour can be won. 
Ill performance of this duty can never win my regard, 
whereas by fulfilling my instructions you will gain heaven 
and also pay your debt to me.' 

The inducements thus held out seem hardly con- 
sistent with the Buddhist philosophy of the books, but 
the reference to heavenly bliss is supported by the 
words of the Buddha in the Ktitadanta Sutta : — f Then 
the Blessed One discoursed to Kutadanta the Brah- 
man in due order ; that is to say, he spake to him of 
generosity, of right conduct, of heaven, of the danger, 
the vanity, and the defilement of lusts, of the advan- 
tages of renunciation V 

While Asoka took infinite pains to issue and en- 
force 'pious regulations/ he put his trust in the 
1 superior effect of meditation ' as the chief agent in 
the promotion of ' the growth of piety among men 
and the more complete abstention from killing ani- 
mate beings, and from sacrificial slaughter of living 
creatures V Nor did he rely solely upon the combined 
effect of meditation and pious regulations for the 
success of his propaganda. He continually extolled 
the merif of almsgiving, and attached much impor- 
tance to practical works of benevolence, in the execu- 
tion of which he set a good example. Within his own 
dominions he provided for the comfort of man and 

1 Rhys Davids, Dialogues of the Buddha, p. 184. 

2 Pillar Edict VII, sec. 9. 


beast ]>y the plantation of shade-giving and fruit- 
bearing trees, the digging of wells, and the erection 
of rest-houses and watering-places at convenient 
intervals along the highroads. He devoted special 
attention to elaborate arrangements for the care and 
healing of the sick, and for the cultivation and dis- 
semination of medicinal herbs and roots in the terri- 
tories of foreign allied sovereigns as well as within the 
limits of the empire. Although the word hospitals 
docs not occur in the edicts, such institutions must 
have been included in his arrangements, and the re- 
markable free hospital which the Chinese pilgrim 
found working at Pataliputra six and a half centuries 
later doubtless was a continuation of Asoka's founda- 
tion. The curious animal hospitals which still exist 
at Sural and certain other cities in Western India also 
maybe regarded as survivals of Asoka's institutions 1 . 
The greater part of Asoka's moral teaching is in 
agreement with, and may be fairly summed up in the 
familiar words of the' ( 'liurcli ( atechism : 

'To lovo, honour, and Buooour my father and mother . . . 

to submit myself to all my governours, teachers, spiritual 
pastors and masters : to order myself lowly and reverently 

to all my betters : to hurt no body by word nor deed : to be 
true and just in all my dealing : to bear no malice nor hatred 
in my heart : to keep my hands from picking and stealing, 
aud my tongue from evil-speaking, lying, and slandering . . . 
and to do my duty in that state of life, unto which it shall 
please God to call me.' 

1 Rock Edict II, Pillar Edict VII ; Fa-hien. travels, ch.xxvii; 
E. Hist. India. 2nd ed., pp. 172, 280. 


Although Asoka probably had no clear faith in 
a living, personal God, his teaching certainly attained 
to a level of practical morality little inferior to that of 
the Church of England in many respects, and superior 
in one point, by the inclusion of animals within the 
circle of neighbours to whom duty is due. Until very 
recent times Christian moralists and divines have been 
slow to recognize the obligation to treat animals with 
kindness, or even to abstain from inflicting wanton 
cruelty upon them, while Asoka brackets together the 
' sparing of living creatures ' and the ' kind treatment 
of slaves and servants.' These remarks, of course, 
apply only to the documents as they stand. The 
question as to how far the admirable sentiments of the 
edicts were acted on by either teacher or taught is 
incapable of solution, but there can be little doubt 
that on the whole Buddhism produced a valuable and 
permanent improvement in Indian notions of morality, 
and that its beneficent action was largely promoted by 
Asoka's official propaganda. Brahmanical Hinduism 
always has shown a tendency either to exalt unduly 
the purely intellectual apprehension of transcendental 
propositions or to attach excessive value to the perform- 
ance of ceremonies, which, as Asoka observed, ' bear 
little fruit,' and, consequently, to undervalue moral 
duty. Buddhism put moral obligation in the front. 

The last glimpse obtained of the historical Asoka 
is that afforded by the Minor Pillar Edicts, which 
exhibit him as the watchful guardian of the unity and 
discipline of the Church which he loved. How, when, 

E 1 


or where be died we know not, and no monument 
exists to mai'k the spot where his ashes rest. The 
Hindu Puranas assign him a reign of either thirty-six 
or thirty-seven years, in substantial agreement with 
the chronicles of Ceylon, which also give the duration 
of the reign as thirty-seven years. By adding the 
interval of about four years between his accession 
and coronation, the total duration of the reign may 
be taken as either forty or forty-one years. The 

materials available do not permit of the (-limnology 
being adjusted with more minute accuracy, but in 
assigning the period B.C. 273-242 to the reign of 
Asoka we cannot be far wrong. Tin- initial date is 
fixed within narrow limits of possible error by two 
independent calculations, one starting from the death 
of Alexander in B.C. 32-5 and the nearly contempora- 
neous accession of Ohandragupta. the other working 
backwards from n.c. 2/5N, the date of the death of 
Ma gas of Cytene, who is mentioned in the thirteenth 
Rock Edict, published in the fourteenth -regnal year' 
reckoned from Asoka'l consecration or coronation. 
Some uncertainty is introduced into the first calcula- 
tion by doubts as to the exact time of Chandragupta's 
accession and by the discrepancy of authorities con- 
cerning the length of the reign of Bindusara, whether 
twenty-five or twenty-eight years. The second calcula- 
tion, based upon the year B.C. 258, leaves very little 
room for doubt, and all authorities are agreed that 
Chandragupta reigned for twenty-four years l . On the 
1 Rhys Davids' note in Anc. Coins and Measures of Ceylon, 


whole, I think it best to assign B. c. 322 for the acces- 
sion of Chandragupta, 298 for that of Bindusara,and 273 
for that of Asoka, whose coronation followed in 269. 

Several eminent scholars have held and defended 
the opinion that the figures 256 at the end of Minor 
Rock Edict I must be interpreted as a date expressing 
the number of years elapsed since the death of Buddha, 
and in the first edition of this work that opinion was 
treated as probable. But further examination of the 
problem has convinced me that M. Senart and Mr. F. W. 
Thomas are right in rejecting the date theory, accord- 
ing to which, if the death of Buddha be assumed to 
have taken place in 487, the edict would be dated 
in B. c. 231, at the close of Asoka's life. I now accept 
the view that the edict in question is the earliest of 
the whole collection, and dates from b. c. 257. This 
divergence of opinion as to the interpretation of that 
document seriously affects the treatment of the life 
history of Asoka x , As already observed, I reject the 
theory that he abdicated, and am of opinion that the 
connected theory of his conversion late in life is 
opposed to the clear testimony of the inscriptions. 

p. 41, corrects the copyist's error which makes the Mahdvamsa 
assign thirty- four years to the reign. 

1 Biihler maintained the date theory to the last (Ind. Ant., 
xxii. 302), and has been followed by Dr. Fleet in several 
articles in the J. B. A. S., of which the latest is in the volume 
for 1909, p. 1. For date of death of Buddha see E. Hist. India, 
2nd ed., pp. 41-4. If B.C. 487 be correct, the Ceylonese date 
218 A. b. for the consecration of Asoka also will be right 
(487-218 = 269). 


Nothing of importance is known about the succes- 
sors of Asoka. His grandson, Dasaratha, mentioned 
in the Puranas, is shown to have been a real personage 
by his inscriptions in the Nagarjuni Hills near Gaya, 
where lie dedicated cavefi to the use of the Ajivikas, 
as his grandfather bad done in the neighbouring 
Barabar Hills. The Jain literary tradition of Western 
India has much to tell about a grandson named 
Samprati. who is represented as having been an 
eminent patron of Jainism — in fact, a Jain Asoka, 
but these traditions are not supported by inscriptions 
or other independent evidence. The hypothesis that 
the great emperor left two grandsons, of whom one 
succeeded him in hia eastern and the other in bis 
western dominions, is little more than a guess; but 
it appears to be nearly certain that in the east be was 
followed directly by Dasaratha. The pathetic story 
of the blinded son. Kunala, briefly related in Chapter 
VII of this book, is mere folk-lore, and the account 
in the Kashmir chronicle of Jalauka. another son, is 
little more, although fortified by some prosaic details. 
He is represented as an ardent worshipper of Siva, 
while his queen was devoted to the service of the 
Mother-goddesses, or Saktis l . The edicts, which 
indicate that Asoka had many sons and grandsons, 
give the name of only one son, Tivara, whose mother 
was the second queen, the Karuvaki, and nothing 
is known about his fate 2 . 

1 .Stein, transl. B&jatar., Bk. i. vv. 108-52. 
- Queen's Edict. 


The names of the successors of Asoka after Dasara- 
tha as stated in different books vary, but the Puranas 
agree that the dynasty came to an end after a duration 
of either 133 or 137 years. Taking the accession of 
Chandragupta to have occurred in b. c. 322, the ex- 
tinction of the Maurya line may be dated in B. c. 185. 
It seems plain that the later Mauryas were compara- 
tively insignificant princes ruling a restricted territory, 
and that the huge empire governed for ninety years 
with such distinction by Chandragupta, Bindusara, 
and Asoka, crumbled to pieces when the strong arm 
of the third sovereign dropped the sceptre. The end 
is said to have come when Brihadratha, the last of 
of the Maurya dynasty, was put to death by Pushya- 
mitra Sunga, his commander-in-chief, who usurped 
the throne. But, although the imperial dynasty 
became extinct within half a century after the death 
of Asoka, his descendants seem to have continued to 
be local chieftains in Magadha for some eight centuries, 
because Hiuen Tsang, the Chinese pilgrim, tells us 
that shortly before his arrival, Purnavarman, Raja 
of Magadha, and the last descendant of Asoka, had 
piously restored the sacred Bodhi tree at Gaya, which 
Sasanka, King of Bengal, had destroyed. These 
events happened soon after a. d. 600. 

7 2 



n. ( . 


523, .June 




ciV. 317 



<ir. 305 



fiV. 296 




Indian campaigns of Alexander 
ilif < Ireal : Chandragnpta in 

Oil youl li nift Alexander. 

Murder of Satrap Philippos; 

[ndiao provinces placed in 

charge of Eudemoa and bong 

Ambni (Omphii I of Taxila. 
I leatfa of Alexander at Bab} ton. 
I.'- \ .ilt of Indian provim ■ 
Accession of Chandragupta 

Maurya as king of Kfagadbl 

and emperor of India. 
Partition of Triparadeisos ; 

kings Ambhi and Pdroi in 

charge of the Panjab. 
Withdrawal of Eudlmoa 
Beleukoa Nikator driven out of 

Recorerj of Babylon by Be- 

Lenkoa ; Beleokidan era, 1 -t 

I October. 
Seleukoi aeenmed title of king. 
War between Selenkoi and 
ndragnpta; cession of 

fbnr satrapies west of Indus 

by Seleoikos ; mission of 

Ifegasthenes to PataEputaa. 
Battle of Ipsos. 
Accession of Bindusara 

Amitraghata Maurya. 
Mission of Delmachos. 
Accession of Ptolemy Philadel- 

phos, king of Egypt. 
Death of Seleukos Nikator ; 

accession of Antiocbos Soter, 

bis son. 
Accession of Antigonos Gronatas, 

kiniz of Macedonia. 








Accession of Asoka-vardhana 

Accession of Alexander, king of 

Consecration (abhisheka = 
coronation) of Asoka. 

Conquest of Kalinga by Asoka, 
who became a Buddhist lay 
disciple (updsaka) ; accession 
of Antiochos Theos, king of 

Asoka entered the Buddhist 
Order as a monk, abolished 
Royal Hunt, established 
'pious tours,' and dispatched 

Death of Magas, king of Cyrene, 
half - brother of Ptolemy 
Philadelphos ; (?) death of 
Alexander, king of Epirus. 

Asoka composed Minor Rock 
Edict I and Rock Edicts III 
and IV, dedicated Barabar 
Caves 1 and 2 to the Ajivikas, 
and instituted quinquennial 

Completion of Fourteen Rock 
Edicts ; Kalinga Borderers' 
Edict ; appointment of Cen- 
sors ; (?) Bhabra Edict. 

(?) Kalinga Provincials' Edict ; 
enlargement for second time 
of stupa of Konakamana 
Buddha near Kapilavastu. 

Dedication of Barabar Cave 
No. 3 to the Ajivikas. 

Pilgrimage to Buddhist holy 

Minor Rock 
E. I. 

Rock E. II, 
Minor Rock 
E. I ; Pillar 

Minor Rock 
E. I; Rock 
E. Ill, IV; 
Minor Rock 
E. II may be 
alittle later. 


Rock E. V, 
XIV ; Bor- 
derers' E. ; 
Bhabra E. 

E. ; Nigliva 
Pillar in- 


and Nigliva 
Pillar in- 





year oi 



H (.marks. 


Declaration of Independence 

by Bactria and Parthia. 



Death of Ptolemy Philadelpboe, 
king of Egypt. 

24701-24'. 1; 

Death of antiochofl Theot, king 

ol Syria. 



( lompotition <>i' Hilar Edict V 1. 

Pillar B. VI 



Completion of Seven Pillar 
Edicts; (?) death ofAntigono 
1 ronatas, king of Macedonia. 


dr. 24U 


Baddhisj Council at Pataliputra. 



.Minor Pillar Edictf. 

Minor Pillar 

DtpavanUa t 



Death of Asoka ; accession 

of Daaaratha, and (! J i of* 


Samprati ; dedication of 


N&garjuni Cares to the 


Ajt\ ik.i-. 



Murder of Brihadratha Ifanrji 
by Pushyamitra Sunga ; ex- 
tinction of Maurya im- 
perial dynasty. 


Extent and Administration of the Empire 

The limits of the vast empire governed successfully 
by Asoka for so many years can be determined with 
sufficient accuracy by the testimony of the Greek and 
Roman authors concerning the dominions of his 
grandfather, by the internal evidence of the edicts, 
and by the distribution of the monuments and in- 
scriptions, with some aid from tradition. 

The Indian conquests of Alexander to the east of 
the Indus, which extended across the Panjab as far as 
the Hyphasis or Bias river, quickly passed, as we have 
seen, soon after the death of Alexander, into the hands 
of Chandragupta Maury a, and the four satrapies of 
Aria, Arachosia, Gedrosia, and the Paropanisadai were 
ceded to him by Seleukos Nikator about B. c. 305. 
The Maurya frontier was thus extended as far as the 
Hindu Kush Mountains, and the greater part of the 
countries now called Afghanistan, Baluchistan and 
Makran, with the North- Western Frontier Province, 
became incorporated in the Indian Empire. That 
empire included the famous strongholds of Kabul, 
Zabul 1 , Kandahar, and Herat, and so possessed the 

1 Not Ghazni (also spelt Ghaznin and Ghazna), which was 
not founded until near the close of the ninth century. Zabul, 


' scientific frontier ' for which Anglo-Indian statesmen 
have long sighed in vain. There is no reason to 
suppose that the trans-Indus provinces were lost by 
Bindusara, and it is reasonable to assume that they 
continued under the sway of Asoka, who refers to 
Antiochos, King of Sj ria, in terms which suggest that 
the Syrian and Indian empires were conterminous. 
!y buildings ascribed to Asoka were seen by 
Ilium Tsang in different parts of Afghanistan. 
Among others he mentions a Btone stilpa,* hundred 
feel high, at the town of rlapisa, somewhere in Kafiri- 
stan, and a remarkable building <>i' the same kind, 
three hundred feel in height and richly decorated, at 
Nangrahar, near Jalalabad, on the Kabul river. The 
Swat valley also contained evidences of Asoka's 
passion for building l , 

Abundant testimony proves the inclusion of the 
vale of Kashmir within the Limits of the empire. The 
city winch precede.] the existing town of Srinagar or 
Pravarapura as the seat of government was founded 
by Asoka, and is generally believed to be represented 
by the ancient site called landrethan, two or three 
miles to the BOUth-east of the present capital. But 
the Muhammadan chroniclers locate Asoka's city at 

the ancient capital of Aiachosia, stood on or near the Mihtar-i- 

Salaim&n range to the east of Ghazni and the south of Kabul. 
The ruins, although known to exist, have not been visited by 
any European (Raverty, Notes on Afghanistan, pp. 457, 506-10). 
1 Beal, Buddhist Beeoris, i. 57, 92, 125; Watters On Yuan 
Chwang, i. 129, 183, 237. For the name Nangrahar or Nang- 
nabar see Raverty, Notes on Afghanistan, p. 49. 


Sir on the Lidar river, not far from Islamabad and 
Martanda and more than thirty miles distant from 
Srfnagar. Legend credited Asoka with having built 
five hundred Buddhist monasteries in Kashmir, and 
it is certain that his zeal was responsible for many 
important edifices, including some dedicated to the 
Brahmanical faith 1 . 

The inclusion in the empire of the Nepalese Tarai, 
or lowlands, is proved conclusively by the inscriptions 
on the Kummindei and Nigliva pillars which com- 
memorate the pilgrimage of the sovereign to the 
Buddhist holy places in B. c. 249. 

Genuine local tradition — not mere literary legend — 
confirmed by the existence of well-preserved monu- 
ments, attests Asoka's effective possession of the 
secluded valley of Nepal. The pilgrimage under the 
guidance of Upagupta, described in the last chapter, 
or another of the same kind, was continued, through 
either the Churia Ghati or the Goramasan Pass, into 
the valley, the capital of which, then known by the 
name of Manju Patan, occupied the same site as 
the modern city of Kathmandu. Asoka resolved to 
commemorate his visit by the foundation of a city 
and the erection of massive monuments. The site 
selected for the new capital was some rising ground 
about two miles to the south-east of Kathmandu, and 
there the city now known as Lalita Patan or Patan 
was laid out. Exactly in its centre Asoka erected a 

1 Stein, trans! . Rdjafar., Bk. i. vv. 101-7 and notes. 


temple which .still stands near the southern side of 

the palace or l Darbar,' and at each of the four sides ol* 
the city, facing the cardinal points, he built four great 
hemispherical siilpas, which Likewise remain to this 
day. Certain minor structures at Patau also bear Ids 
name Asoka was accompanied in his pilgrimage by 
hia daughter Charnmati, the wife of a Kshatriya 
named Devapala. Both husband and wife settled in 
Nepal near the holy shrine of Pasupati, where they 
founded and peopled Deva Patau. They were there 
blessed with a numerous family, and becoming aged 
determined to pass the remainder of their lives in 
religious retirement, vowing that each would build 
a retreat for members of the Order. Oharumati had 
the good fortune to fulfil her vow, and in due course 
died in the nunnery which she had erected. The build- 
ing still exists at the village of Chabahil. north of and 
close to Deva Patau. Devapala is said to have died 
in great di st r ess because lie was unable to complete 
before his death tin- monastery which he had vowed 
to found. These things air believed to have happened 
while the Kiratas. or hill-men from the east, ruled 
Nepal and Sthunko was the local Raja 1 . 

In Asoka's days, and for many centuries later, 
Tamralipti, the capital of a small dependent kingdom 

1 Oldfiekl, Sketches from Nipdl, ii. 246-8; Wright, History of 
Nepdl,j), no; Sylvain Li \i. L> Xcpal, i. 67 ; ii. 82. The photo- 
graph on p. 263 of tome i is a good representation of the 
southern Asoka stiijxi at Patau, the antiquity of which is 
guaranteed by its form. See also Ind. Ant., xiii. 412. 


named Suhma, was the principal port for the embarka- 
tion and landing of passengers and goods conveyed 
to or from Ceylon, Burma, China, and the islands of 
the Indian Ocean. There is no doubt that this im- 
portant mart was under the jurisdiction of Asoka, who 
built a stupa there, which was still in existence nine 
centuries later. The port was destroyed long since 
by the accumulation of silt and the sinking of the 
land. Its modern representative, the small town of 
Tamluk, stands fully sixty miles distant from the sea. 
The old city lies buried under the deposits made by 
the rivers, the remains of masonry walls and houses 
being met with at a depth of from eighteen to twenty- 
one feet 1 . Another stiLpa of Asoka stood in the capi- 
tal of Samatata or the Gangetic Delta 2 , and others in 
various parts of Bengal 3 and Bihar. 

It is thus manifest that the whole of Bengal must 
have been subject to the Maury a suzerainty. The 
conquest in B. c. 261 of the neighbouring kingdom of 
Kalinga between the Mahanadi and Godavari rivers, 
narrated in the preceding chapter, completed the circle 
of Asoka's sovereignty over India to the north of the 

1 Tamluk is in the Midnapore District on the Rupnarayan 
river in lat. 22 18' N., long. 87 56' E. See Imp. Gaz. (1908), 
s.v. Tamluk; Fa-hien, Travels, transl. Legge, ch. xxxvii, p. 100; 
Hiuen Tsang, in Beal, Records, ii. 200 ; Watters, On Yuan 
Chwang, ii. 190. In Fa-hien's time (a. d. 410) there were 
twenty-two Buddhist monasteries at Tamralipti, which were 
reduced to about half the number in the seventh century. 

2 Beal, ii. 199; Watters, ii. 187. 

3 Beal, ii. 195 ; Watters, ii. 184. 


Narbada. We do aot know for certain in whose reign 
the southern provinces were annexed, but it is 
probable that they were incorporated in the empire 
during the reign of Chandragupta, who is known from 
the ( inscription of Rudradaman to have been 
master of Surashtra, the peninsula of ELathi&w&r, in 

the i'ar west l . 

The approximate sonthern boundary of the empire 
is easily defined by the existence of three copies of 
the .Minor Keck Edicts in Northern Mysore (N. lat. 
14 50', E. long. 76 4S')-' and by the references in the 
Fourteen Rock Edicts to the Tamil states as indepen- 
dent powers. The frontier line may be drawn with 
practical accuracy from Nellore (14° 27' N.) on the 
east coast at the mouth of the lVnnar or Penner river 
to the mouth of the Kalyanapuri river (13 m' N.) 
on the west coast. That river formed the northern 
boundary of the Tuluva country, which was separated 
from Kerala or Malabar by the Ohandragiri or 
Kangarote river (12 27' X.i. and probably repres. 
the Satiyaputra kingdom mentioned in the edicts, but 
not known from other source 

Asoka's empire, therefore, comprised the countries 
now known as Afghanistan, as far as the Hindu Kush, 

1 Ep. Iud., viii. 36. 

2 This is the position of the Jatinga-liaine.-'vam hill. The 
Siddapnra and Biahmagiri recensions are close by. 

3 Balfour, Cyclopaedia, 8.t>.Tuluva and Malabar ; K. Hut. India, 
2nd ed., pp. 173, 402, 414; Ind. Ant. xxxiv. 248; Imp. Gaz. 
(1908), s.v. Chandragiri. The Ohandragiri river still is an 
ethnic frontier which no Nayar woman may cross. 


Baluchistan, Makran, Sind, Kachh (Cutch), the Swat 
valley, with the adjoining regions, Kashmir, Nepal, and 
the whole of India proper, except the extreme south, 
Tamilakam or Tamil Land. His dominions were far 
more extensive than British India of to-day, excluding 
Burma. The kingdom of Kamarupa, or Assam, in the 
north-east, seems to have been independent, and 
certainly remained outside the sphere of Asoka's 
religious propaganda. Hiuen Tsang, who visited the 
country in the seventh century, expressly affirms that 
Buddhism had failed to obtain a footing, and that not 
a single monastery had ever been built within its limits . 

The legends of Tibet, recorded in more forms than 
one, assert that the city and kingdom of Khotan, to 
the north of the Himalayan range, were founded 
during the reign of Asoka by the co-operation of Indians 
and Chinese who divided the country between them ; 
and one form of the story distinctly states that ' all 
the lands above the river Shal-chhu Gong-ma were 
given to Yaksha, which thenceforth belonged to 
Aryavarta [soil. India].' It is also alleged that ' Asoka, 
the King of Aryavarta/ visited Khotan in the year 250 
after the death of Buddha, and that he was the 
contemporary of Shi-hwang-ti, the famous Chinese 
emperor who built the Great Wall. The chronology 
certainly is approximately correct, because Shi-hwang- 
ti reigned from 246 to 210, becoming { universal 
emperor ' in 221 *, and Asoka's reign, as we have seen, 
extended from 273 to 232. The date of the alleged 

1 Tchang, Si/nchronismes Chinois (Chang-hai, 1905), pp. 1 12-16, 



visit would fall in ii. o. 237, on the assumption, for 

which strong grounds exist, that Buddha died in 
n. o. 4K7. It is very remarkable that the Tibetan books 

alone have preserved a substantially accurate tradition 
of the dates of both Asoka and the death of Buddha. 
But, while duly noting that fact and admitting the 
probability of extensive intercourse between 1 Asoka s 
dominions and Khotan. the evidence is not sufficient 

to /lustily the belief thai the trans-] I Lmalayan kingdom 

was subject to the political authority of the Indian 
monarch l . It is admitted that Buddhism was not 
introduced into Khotan until a date considerably 
later. Asoka's propaganda in the Himalayan region 
Beems to have been confined to the southern side of 
the main ran. 

The materials available for a description of the 
organisation and administration of the enormous em- 
pire defined in the preceding pages are surprisingly 
copious. ICegastheneS has recorded with the pen of 
an intelligent foreign observer a detailed account of 
the institutions of Chandragupta, and the assumption 
i^> justified that the Bystem of government developed 
by the genius of the first emperor of India was 
maintained as a whole by his grandson, although 

1 Sarat Chandra Das. J.A.s.j;.. Part i (1896), pp. 195-7; 
Rockhill, Life of the Buddha, pp. 233-7. The works used by 
Rockhill place the foundation of Khotan in 234 A. B. [487 — 234 
= B. c. 253], and the accession of Asoka apparently 48 or 49 
(30th year-f 19, age of Kustana) years earlier, in B.C. 301 or 302, 
assigning fifty- four years to his reign. The legends are discussed 
by Stein. Ancient Khotan (1907), pp. 156-66. 


supplemented by some novel arrangements and slightly 
modified by certain reforms. The recently discovered 
and partly published treatise on the Art of Government 
ascribed to Kautalya, Kautilya, or Chanakya, the 
capable, although unscrupulous, minister of the first 
Maurya sovereign \ and undoubtedly of early date, 
throws much welcome light on the principles of govern- 
ment as practised by ancient Indian kings, confirming 
and explaining in many respects the Greek accounts 
which previously stood alone. Numerous particulars 
of the civil and ecclesiastical organization of the empire 
are revealed by close examination of the Asoka in- 
scriptions, and careful comparison of all the data of 
various kinds enables the historian to say with truth 

1 The minister's name is given as Kautalya, Kautilya, 
Chanakya, or Vishnugupta. Mr. R. Shamasastry is entitled to 
the credit of bringing to public notice for the first time a manu- 
script of the Arthasdstra and an imperfect manuscript of a com- 
mentary by Bhattasvami on the same, which have been deposited 
by a pundit in the Mysore Government Oriental Library. Two 
more MSS. of the work have been lent by Professor Jolly to the 
Munich State Library, and another appears to exist in the 
collection of the Sanskrit College at Calcutta (Hillebrandt, 
Ueber das Kautiliyasdstra tend Verwandtes, Breslau, 1908). Mr. 
Shamasastry has printed a preliminary rough edition of most 
of the text, proofs of which are in the hands of Mr. F. W. 
Thomas and other scholars, and has published a translation 
of selections dealing with the subjects of land and revenue 
in Ind. Ant, xxxiv (1905), pp. 5, 47, no. He has also published 
a rough translation of Books i and ii in the Mysore Revieie, 
which has been reprinted as a pamphlet at the G. T. A. Press, 
Mysore, 1908, under the title Chanakya 's Arthasdstra or Science 
of Politics. The learned translator hopes to complete the work. 

F 2 


that more is known about the internal polity of India 
as it was in the Maurya age than can be affirmed on 
the subject concerning any period intervening between 
that age and the reign of Akbar eighteen centuries 

IVitaliputra, the capital of the kingdom of Magadha 
and the head quarters of the imperial government, 
stood on the northern bank of the Son, a few miles 
above the confluence of that river with the (langes. 
The Sdn changed its course long ago and now unites 
with the larger stream Dear the cantonment of Dina- 
pore (Dhinapur) above Bankipore, bat the old bed of 
the river can be readily traced and vestiges of the 
gkdts OX steps which lined its bank can still be 
discerned The capital, thus protected by two great 
rivers against hostile approach, occupied a strong. 
defensible position such as was much favoured by the 
founders of Indian town-. The Bite IS now covered 
by the large native city of Patna, the English civil 
station of Bankipore. the East Indian Railway, and 
sundry adjacent villages. The belief at one time 
current that a large part of the ancient city has been 
cut away by the rivers is erroneous. Diluvial action 
seems to have been slight, and the remains of the 
early buildings still exist, but lie buried for the most 
part under a deep layer of silt. 

The ancient city, like its modern successor, was 
a long, narrow parallelogram, about nine miles in 
length and a mile and a half in breadth. When Me- 
gasthenes lived there in the days of (handragupta. it 


was, defended by a massive timber palisade, pierced by 
sixty-four gates, crowned by five hundred and seventy 
towers, and protected externally by a broad, deep 
moat filled from the waters of the S6n. Fragments of 
the palisade have been found at several places in the 
course of casual excavations. Asoka improved the 
defences by building an outer masonry wall, and 
beautified the city with so many richly decorated 
stone buildings that they seemed to after ages to be 
the work of the genii and beyond the power of human 
skill. I have myself seen two magnificent sandstone 
capitals dug up, one close to the railway and the other 
in a potato-field, which must have belonged to stately 
edifices of large size. Unfortunately, the depth of the 
overlying silt, often reaching twenty feet, and the 
existence of numerous modern buildings make exca- 
vation exceptionally difficult. 

The royal palace, or one of the palaces, seems to 
have occupied the site now covered by the village and 
fields of Kumrahar, to the south of the railway, and 
the slight excavations carried out there some years 
ago were sufficient to indicate the probability that 
more systematic exploration on a large scale would 
produce extremely interesting results. I believe that 
it would be possible to identify many of the sites of 
the monuments at and near Pataliputra mentioned by 
the Chinese pilgrims, if a thorough survey were made 
by an adequate staff working with suitable appliances 
under skilled supervision, but the results of the 
praiseworthy efforts made with imperfect equipment 


by more or less amateur explorers cannot be con- 
sidered satisfactory or often convincing 1 . The pal 
of Chandragupta, although probably construe 
mostly of timber like the palaces of the modem ttagi 
of Burma, is described as excelling in magnifies 
the royal pleasaunces of Susa and Ekbatana. The 
pillars, we are told, were elasped all round with vines 
embossed in gold, and adorned with Bilver figures of 
the most attractive birds. The gardens were replete 
with the choicest plants ami furnished with artificial 
ponds of great beauty. Those splendours have all 
gone beyond recall, bat extensive and oostly excava- 
tion, no doubt, would disclose something of the mag- 
nitude at least of the masonry foundations of the 
earlier buildings and possibly might reveal more 
characteristic remains of Asoka's stone edifices and 

The administration of the metropolis was organized 
with much elaboration, and w 7 as confided to a com- 
mission of thirty members divided into six Boards 
of five members each — a development, perhaps, of 

1 For change- in the riven, see Cunningham, Archaeol. 8. Btp., 

vol. viii, p. 6: vol. xi, p. 154. Many identifications, more or 
less convincing, will be found in Lieut. -Col. "WaddeU's tract 
entitled Discovery 0/ (he Exact Site of Asoka's Classic Capital of 
P&taliputra, ^r., Calcutta, 1892 ; 2nd ed., 1903. This interesting 
work, although open to criticism, has added much to knowledge. 
A good deal of information is buried in an unpublished and 
rather crude report, of which I possess a proof, by the late 
Babu P. C. Mukharji, whose drawings must be in the Calcutta 
Secretariat. The Greek and Roman notices will be found in 
Mr. McCrindle's works already eited. 


the ordinary Hindu pamhdyat. The first Board 

was charged with the superintendence of the 

industrial arts, and of artisans, who were regarded 

as servants of the State. The second was entru^ed 

with the duty of supervising foreigners, and attending 

to their wants, being tetfpoiiau*, for medical aid 

to the strangers in case of sickness, iu~ their decent 

burial in case of death, and for the admins +, ra ti on 

9 the estates of the deceased. The officials \>.,.^ 

also required to provide foreign visitors with suitable 

lodgings and to furnish them with adequate escort 

when returning home. The duties of this Board 

closely resembled those imposed upon the proxenol 

oi ^re^K noties, but in India. && persons performing 

such duties were officials of the Indian king, whereas 

in Greece the iwoxenos, like a modern consul, was 

appointed by the state whose subjects he protected 1 . 

2lhr dhix* 1 Hoard was charged with the duty of 
maintaining a register of births and deaths, which 
was kept up for the information of the Government 
as well as for revenue purposes. 

The fourth Board may be called the Board of 
Trade, because it exercised a general superintend- 
ence over the trade and commerce of the capital, 
and regulated weights and measures. The tax on 
sales being one of the principal sources of the royal 
revenue, everything for sale had to be marked with 

1 ' Consular Officers in India and Greece, ' bid. Ant., xxxiv 
(1905), p. 200; Newton, Essays on Art and Archaeology, pp. 
104, 121. 

88 A SDK A 

the official stamp 1 . The rules about weights and 

measures were laid clown in minute detail. The 
fifth Board had similar duties in respect of inanu- 
fW. nre d goods. Traders were required to keep old 
and new .„<,.U separate, and careful distinctions were 

drawn betlff ei, „ 1( .vr.i " parts, that 

from tho c • ,ltr . v ;in 'l thai produced or made inside 
the e^' ' nr S i- N,M Board collected the tax on sales, 
vv weh is said by Afegasthenes to have been 01 
ad valorerti, inu. as a matter of Pact, was levied at 
various rates. Evasion of this tux was punishable 
with death, according to Megasthenes as reported 
by Strabo. Ch&nakya lays down that 'those who 
utter a lie dudl h<> punished as thieves*,' that i,« ^> 
siv. by mutilation ot death. 

The documents do nor supply similar details 
conct'ininu the munkipa] <_rov.rnment of the other 
cities of the empire, but tip more than 

j>nee to the o fl te oifl in charge of particular towns, 
and it i> probable that the greater cities were 
a'dministered on the same lines as the capital. 

The court was characterized by semi -barbaric mag- 
nificence which Quintus (Airtius considered to be 
carried to 'a vicious excess without a parallel in 
the world.' The stories about the king's golden 
palanquin and other articles of ostentatious luxury 

1 ana avao-ijfxov in .Megasthenes. Fragm. xxxiv, mistranslated 
by McCrindle {Megasthenes, p. 87) as 'by public notice.' 
^irrcrTj^ov is the abhijnCineimiulrd of Chanakya. Bk. ii. ch. 21. 

2 A>i1>ascl*tra. Bk. ii. ch. 21, 22. 


may be accepted as true, because such extravagances 
have always been a weakness of Indian Rajas, and 
it would not be difficult to find parallels even in 
Europe. The Roman author was especially scan- 
^sJizftd by the information that the sovereign used 
to be ' accompanied by a long train of courtesans 
carried in golden palanquins, which takes a place in 
the procession separate from that of the queen's 
retinae, .and is as sumptuously appointed.' The 
statement quoted is supported oy" Chanakya, who 
speaks of such women ' holding the royal umbrella, 
golden pitcher, and fan, and attending upon the king- 
when seated on his royal litter, throne, or chariot 1 .' 
EfrcoyWIy Acquainted with modern India is aware 
that similar customs still survive. 

The close attendance of female guards, not of the 
courtesan class, on the royal person is an extremely 
ancient Indian custom, which was observed by 
Ranjit Singh less than a century ago, and may, 
perhaps, still be practised in out-of-the-way States. 
Chanakya lays down the rule that the sovereign on 
getting up from bed in the morning should be 
received first by the female archers, whose appearance 
seems to have been considered of good omen 2 . These 
Amazonian guards attended the king when he went 
out hunting in state, and prevented intrusion on the 
road of the procession, which was marked out by 
ropes. Death was the penalty of him who passed 
the barrier. Asoka, like his ancestors, indulged 
1 Bk. ii. ch. 27. 2 Bk. i. ch. 21. 

90 AS OK A 

without scruple in such formal hunting expeditions 
during his earlier years, hut when he hegan to ' exerl 
himself strenuously ' in the cause of the Law of 
Piety about B.C. 259, he be <<tal.lishment 

of the Boy&l Hunt and substituted for the pleasures 

of the chase the laM BXeiting ever eterview 

holy men. giving alms, and holding disputations on 
Loufl subjects during ' pious tours' similar to fcfce 
pilgrimage which he undertook in j;. c. 24a. 

Before the mtarocLuction of Buddhist puritanum tie 
Maurya oouri used to amuse itaelf, not only with 
hunting, hut with racing, animal fights, and gladia- 
lorial contests, A curious form of racing, not now 

in vogue, was praatieed with 1 ipeeiaJ lured of «bw 
which are said to bare squiffed &< qpaad, The 

car was harmssed 1 with horses in 

the centre and ,., ' side. The course was 

about ■ mik aad three quarten in length, and the 
king and his nohles betted keenly in geld nnd silvi r 
on the result. Animal fightfi were much enjoyed, 
elephants, rhinoceroses, hulls, rams, and other beasts 
being pitted against one another. Elephant fight- 
continued to be a favourite diversion at Muhammadan 
courts up to recent times, and the unpleasant spectacle 
of a ram tight may still be witnessed at the palaces 
of many Rajas. Such entertainments, of eoura 
abhorrent to the spirit of Buddhism, and all came to 
an end when Asoka resolved that there should be no 
more ' cakes and ale V His courtiers must have had 
1 For the Maurya court see Q. Curtiua, History of Alexand' , 


a terribly dull time and often have sighed for the good 
old days of worldly-minded Chandragupta. 

Communication between the capital and the pro- 
vinces was maintained by the river waterways and 
a system of roads, the principal of which was the 
royal highway leading from Pataliputra to the Indus 
through Taxila, the forerunner of Lord Dalhousie's 
Grand Trunk Road. Distances were marked by 
pillars erected at intervals of ten stadia, or half a kos, 
about an English mile and a quarter. Asoka added 
a well beside each pillar, and further consulted the 
comfort of travellers by planting trees for shade and 
fruit, and by providing rest-houses and sheds supplied 
$rith drinking-water. The communications must have 
oeen good to make *pc*d^]c~ the control of the whole 
empire from a capital situated so far to the east as 
Pataliputra 1 . 

the Great, Bk. viii, ch. 9, transl. McCrindle {Invasion of India 
by Alexander the Great, p. 188); and Aelian, On the Peculiarities 
of Animals, Bk. xiii, ch. 18, 22; Bk. xv, ch. 15, transl. 
McCrindle, {Ancient India, pp. 14 1-5). Trotting oxen are used 
largely to this day, especially in Western and Southern India, 
but I have never heard of the racing breed except in the pages 
of Megasthenes. I fully believe his statement. 

1 Strabo (Bk. xv, ch. 11 ; McCrindle, Anc. India, p. 16) gives 
the length of the royal road as 10,000 stadia, or about 1150 
English miles, on the authority of Megasthenes and Eratos- 
thenes, who obtained the figures from an official record, and as 
9,000 according to another authority. 1 stadium=202\ yards ; 10 
stadia = 2022\ yards. The mean length of the Mughal Icos as 
measured between the existing pillars {mtndrs) is 4558 yards, 
but a shorter Ms is used in the Panjab. I do not think it 
possible to accept the proposed interpretation of adhakosikya in 

92 A SDK A 

The imperial government was an absolute auto- 
cracy in which the king's will was supreme. From 
about B.C. 259 Asoka applied his autocratic power 
to the Buddhist Church, which he ruled as it Head. 
In the Bhabra Edict ' His Grace the King of Magadha 
addresses the Church with greeting? and hidi its 
memben prosperity and good health, 1 and afta thii 

irdinm proceeds to recommend to the faithful, lay 
and clerical, the passage* from the holy books which 
he deairei them bo study with special care. Many 
years later, in the S&rnatb Edict and ita variants, we 
tind His Baored Majesty declaring that * t lie Church 
may not 1)0 rent in twain by any person,' and pre- 
scribing the canonical penalties to be inflicted trpon 
schismatics. Asoka Slkds | close paralk 

in that of Charlemagao, whose unwearied and com- 
prehensive activity made him throughout hie 1 
an ecclesiastical no leas than a civil ruler, summoning 
and sitting in councils, examining and appointing 
bishops, settling by capitularies the smallest points 
of Church discipline and polity 1 . 1 

The imperial orders, whether in purely civil or in 
ecclesiastical matters, between which nice distinctions 
were not drawn, were communicated through an 
organized body of officials, the superior grades of 

Pillar Edict VII, sec. 5, as meaning 'at intervals of eight fafc.' 
Adha in the language of the edicts does not apparently mean 
'eight. 1 The direct distance between PiUaliputra and Taxila 
afl measured on the map is about 950 miles. 

1 Freeman, The Holy Roman Empire (1892), p. 64. 


whom were called mahdmdtras, and the lower ranks 
were known as yulctas 1 . When a mahdmdtra or 
yuktawBjS assigned to a special department, his sphere 
of duty was indicated by a prefix to the generic title. 
The less civilized tribes on the frontiers and in the 
jungles were governed by their own chiefs subject to 
the general control of the paramount power, and we 
may be assured that large portions of the empire 
were administered by local hereditary Rajas, who 
would have been left very much to their own devices 
as long as they supplied the men and money demanded 
by their suzerain. But the inscriptions, with one 
exception, do not mention such Rajas in the settled 
provinces, and the view concerning them expressed 
above is based on the general course of Indian 
history 2 . 

The authorities, that is to say, Megasthenes, Chanak- 
ya, and the edicts, rather seem to imply that all the 
work of administration was done by Crown officials. 
The princely Viceroys stood at the head of the 
bureaucracy. Four of them — the Princes of Taxila, 
Ujjain, Tosali, and Suvarnagiri — are mentioned in the 
edicts 3 , and there may have been others. The Vice- 
royalties of Taxila and Ujjain are known also from 

1 The word yukta in this sense occurs several times in the 
edicts, and frequently in the Atihasastra. 

2 The Yavana Raja Tushaspha in the Girnar inscription of 
Rudradainan (Ep. Ind., viii. 36). 

3 Taxila and Ujjain in Kalinga Provincials' Edict ; Tosali in 
Kalinga Borderers' Edict, Dhauli version ; Suvarnagiri in Minor 
Rock Edict 1, Brahmasiri version. 


literary tradition, which represents Asoka as having 
governed both those distant provinces previous to his 
accession. The Prince of Taxi la may he presumed to 
have controlled at least the Punjab and Kashmir. 
The country now called Afghanistan may have been 
in charge of another Viceroy, who does not happen bo 
have been mentioned. The Prince of Ujjain would 
have been responsible lor Malva. Gujarat* and Surash- 
tra. The Prince of Tosali presumably was Governor 
of the annexed province of Kalinga, and the Prince of 
Suvarnagiri Beems to have been Viceroy of the South 1 . 

The more central regions of the empire apparently 
were administered by officials appointed directly from 
the capital, without the intervention of any Prince. 
The distribution of the Pillar inscriptions gives a 
rough indication of the extent of the home provinces, 
while the Kock inscriptions occur only in outlying 

The Rajukas, 'set over hundreds of thousands of 
souls,' probably came next in rank to the Viceroys. 
The modern term ( Commissioner may serve as a rough 
equivalent. Below them came the Pradesikas, or 
District Officers, and both classes seem to have been 

1 Tosali must have been near Dhauli in the Pari District, 
Orissa, and, perhaps, was the Dosara of Ptolemy. The position 
of Suvarnagiri is not known. There is a Songir in W. Khandesh 
District, 2i° 5' N., 74 47' E., with an old fort ; and a Songarh, 
the early Gaikwar capital, with 'vast ruins,' in Baroda, 21 10' 
N.. 73 36' E. Dr. Fleet's identification with the Songiri hill at 
Rajagriha depends on his theory of Asoka's late conversion and 
subsequent abdication. 


comprised under the general name of mahdmdtras. 
A host of petty officials, yuktas and upayuktas, clerks 
and underlings of sorts, carried out the orders of their 
superiors. The king and his great officers, of course, 
had their secretariat establishments, worked by secre- 
taries, or lekhakas 1 . All the evidence goes to show- 
that the civil administration was highly organized for - 
purposes of both record and executive action. 

Departments were numerous. Megasthenes was 
impressed by the working of the Irrigation Depart- 
ment, which performed functions similar to those of 
the corresponding institution in Egypt, regulating the 
sluices so as to distribute the water fairly among the 
farmers. The Rudradaman inscription at Girnar gives 
us a glimpse of the actual working of the Department, 
which had embanked the lake at Girnar in the time 
of Chandragupta Maurya, and under Asoka's Persian 
(Yavana) Raja, Tushaspha, had equipped it with the 
needful watercourses. This instance shows the care 
that was taken to promote agricultural improvement 
and so to develop the land revenue, even in a remote 
province distant more than a thousand miles from 
the capital. The farmers did not get the water for 
nothing. It was supplied on strictly business princi- 
ples, and paid for by heavy water rates (udakabltdgam) 
varying from one-fourth to one-third of the produce, 
according to the mode of irrigation 2 . 

The land revenue, or Crown rent, as always in India, 

1 Defined in Arthasdstra, Bk. ii, ch. 10. 

2 Arthasdstra, Bk. ii, ch. 24. 


was the mainstay of the Treasury. All agricultural 
land was regarded as Crown property, and the normal 
theoretical share of tin Slat, was either one-fourth or 
one-sixth of the produce, in addition to water rate, 
if any, and a host of other duefl and CCSSes. People 
who grumble at modern assessments will find if they 
study history that their am often were much 

more severely fleeced. ( IhAnakya, without the alighteel 
regard for moral principles, explains the methods of 
more than Machiavellian wickedness by which need) 

kings may replenish their coffers \ and many instances 
of the lessen being well learned are on record. Official 
misdoings wot as common in ancient ;is in modern 

times. The textbook writer, with the characteristic 

Hindu love for categories, explains that 'there are 
about forty way- of embezzlement,' winch he enumer- 
ates with painstaking exactness. He sagely obsei 
that 'just as it is Impossible not to taste the honey or 
the poison that finds itself at the tip of the tongUi 
it is impossible for a Government servant not to eat 

up at least a bit of the king's revenue -.' The Kulinpi 
Provincials' Edict -how- how Asoka was worried l»y 
negligent or disobedient officers, and expresses in 
singularly vivid language, evidently the actual words 
of the sovereign, his displeasure at the neglect of his 
commands. ' You must,' he declares, ' see to your 
duty and be told to remember : — " See to my commands, 
such and such are the instructions of his Sacred 

1 Ind, Ant,, xxxiv. 1 15-19. 
Art) awhstra, 13k. li, th. 8, 9. 


Majesty." Fulfilment of these bears great fruit ; non- 
fulfilment brings great calamity, By those who fail 
neither heaven nor the royal favour can be won ; ' 
and so forth. 

He essayed the impossible task of supervising 
personally the affairs of his wide dominions. ' I am 
never fully satisfied,' he exclaims, ' with my efforts 
and my dispatch of business. Work I must for the 
welfare of all — and the root of the matter is in effort 
and the dispatch of business, for nothing is more 
efficacious to secure the welfare of all.' Thus he 
toiled through a long life, priding himself especially on 
his accessibility to suitors at all hours and in all 
places, even the most inconvenient 1 . Such accessibility, 
although inconsistent with really efficient government, 
is always highly popular in India, where the people 
never can be persuaded that a ruler may arrange his 
time more profitably than by exposing himself to 
incessant interruption. The European critic feels that 
if Asoka had worked less hard he would have done 
better work, but must admit that in spite of his defects 
of method he was wonderfully successful in holding 
together for forty years an empire rarely exceeded in 
magnitude. Asoka's procedure was in accordance with 
the practice of his grandfather, who heard cases even 
while he was being massaged by his attendants, and 
with Chanakya's rule, which reads like an extract from 
the edicts : 

' The King, therefore, shall personally attend to the business 
1 Rock Edict VI. 


of gods, heretics, Brahroans learned in the Vedas, cattle, sacred 

places, iniiiois, the aged, the afflicted, the helpless, and 

women :— all this either in the older (if enumeration or 
according to the urgent necessity of each such business 1 .' 

The emperor, like most Oriental sovereigns, relied 
much upon espionage and the reports of news-writers 
and special agents employed by the Crown for the 
purpose of watching the executive officers, and 
reporting to head quarters everything that came to 
their knowledge. Even the eourteeans were employed 
in this secret service, the nature of which is largely 
explained in Chanakya's treatise. Kings in those 
days had reason to be suspicious. It is recorded of 
( handragupta that he dared not sleep in the daytime, 
and was obliged, like a modern king of Burma, to 
change liis bedroom every night 2 . 

Asoka, in his fourteenth 'regnal year" (B.C. 2,",6), 
added to the normal establishment a body of officers 
especially appointed to the duty of teaching and 
enforcing the Buddhist Law of Piety, or rules of 
dharma. The superior officials of this kind were 
termed Dkarina-mahdrndtraSi which may be rendered 

1 Arthnsusfra, Bk. i. eh. 19, ' The Duties of a King.' 

2 Strabo, 1, 53-56 inMcCrin<lle,.Vrv"^/<' -m >. p. 71 ; Arfhaidttra, 
Bk. i, eh. 11, &e. ; the King's Agents [pulisAni) in Pillar Edict 
III, with whom compare the missi domimd of Charlemagne ; 
MudrA-rdkshasOj Act ii. Charlemagne's missi were 'officials 
commissioned to traverse each some part of his dominions, 
reporting on and redressing the evils they found ' (Freeman, 
Holy Roman Empire (1892), p. 68). Their functions must have 
been similar to those of Asoka's ' men ' or Agents. 


Censors, and the inferior were called Dharma-yuJctas 
or Assistant Censors. The duties of the Censors, as 
defined in general terms in Rock Edicts V, XII, and 
Pillar Edict VII, must have included jurisdiction in 
cases of injury inflicted on animals contrary to the regu- 
lations, exhibitions of gross filial disrespect, and other 
breaches of the moral rules prescribed by authority. 
They were also instructed to redress cases of wrongful 
confinement or corporal punishment, and were em- 
powered to grant remission of sentence when the offender 
was entitled to consideration by reason of advanced 
years, sudden calamity, or the burden of a large family. 
They shared with the Inspectors of Women the delicate 
duty of supervising female morals, the households of the 
royal family both at the capital and in the provincial 
towns being subject to their inspection. The practical 
working of these institutions must have presented 
many difficulties, and been open to much abuse. 

The general severity of the government of Chandra- 
gupta is testified to by Justin, who declares that 
that prince, after his victory over the Macedonian 
garrisons, 'forfeited by his tyranny all title to the 
name of liberator, for he oppressed with servitude 
the very people whom he had emancipated from 
foreign thraldom.' The Roman historian's impression 
seems to be justified by the few details on record 
concerning the ferocity of the penal law. We have 
seen that evasion of taxes in certain cases was 
punishable with death, and that an intruder on the 
king's procession during a hunting expedition was 

G 2 

ioo AS(^K.1 

liable to tlio same punishment. We are also told tliat 
the offence of causing the loss of a hand or an eye to 
an artisan was capital, the reason apparently being 
that skilled workmen were regarded as being specially 
devoted to the king's service. Perjury and theft 
were ordinarily punishable by mutilation. Other 
instances of severity may be collected from Hiana- 
kya's treatise. In certain unspeeiiied cases the eccen- 
tric penalty of shaving the offender's hair was inflicted. 
This punishment apparently was borrowed from 
Persia, and is one of several indications that the 
example of the court of the Groat King influenced the 
customs of the Maurya sovereigns 1 . Asoka, as al- 
ready observed, seems to have maintained the Btern 
methods of his predecessors, the only mitigation for 
which he claims credit being the grant of three days 
respite between a capital sentence and execution. 
His practice of releasing convicts on the anniversary 
of his consecration was in accordance with precedent 2 . 
Megasthenes, from persona] experience, was able to 
testify that the sternness of the government kept crime 
in check, and that in Chandragupta's capital, with 
a population of 400,000, the total of the thefts re- 
ported in any one day did not exceed two hundred 
chuchmai, or about eight pounds sterling. 

The two Kalinga Edicts deserve special study as 
authoritative statements of Asoka's personal ideal of 
good government, a benevolent paternal despotism. 

1 Ind. Ant. xxxiv (1905), p. 202. 

" Atihasdstra. Bk. ii. eh. 36 (Inch Ant., xxxiv. 521. 


He instructs his officers that they must induce the 
wilder tribes ' to trust me and grasp the truth that — 
" the King is to us even as a father ; he loves us even 
as he loves himself; we are to the King even as his 
children."' The companion edict inculcates similar 
principles to be applied to the government of the more 
settled population. 

• The army, comprising, according to established 
rule, the four arms of infantry, cavalry, elephants, and 
chariots, was not a militia, but a permanent force, 
maintained at the royal cost, liberally paid, and 
equipped from the Government arsenals. The edicts, as 
might be expected, throw no light upon its organiza- 
tion in the reign of Asoka, and the information on 
record chiefly derived from Megasthenes, refers to the 
time of Chandragupta. The navy, as in Europe until 
recent times, was regarded as a branch of the army. 
No evidence as to the extent of the naval force main- 
tained by the Mauryas is available, but it is known 
that the ancient Hindus did not shun the ' black 
water' as their descendants do, and that the States 
of Southern India maintained powerful navies for 
centuries. It is, therefore, probable that the Maurya 
ships were not restricted to the rivers, but ventured 
out to sea. Chanakya, indeed, expressly states that 
the head of the naval department should look after 
sea-going ships as well as those concerned with inland 
navigation \ 

The War Office, like the capital, was controlled by 
1 Samudra-samydna, Arthabustra, Bk. ii, cli. 28. 

102 ASOKA 

a commission of thirty members, divided into six 
Boards each containing five members, to which de- 
partments were assigned as follows : — 

Board 1 : Admiralty, in OO-operatlOB with the 

Admiral : 
Board II : Transport, commissariat, and army 
service, including the provision of drummers, 
grooms, mechanics, and grass-cutter 
Board III : Infantry : 
Board IV : Cavalry ; 
Board V : War-chariots ; 
Board VI : Elephants. 
The strength of the force maintained by Chandra- 

guptfl has been stated in Chapter J. Asokas peaceful 
policy probably required a smaller military establish- 
ment, but nothing on the Bubjeoi ifl recorded. The 
heaviness of the enemy's casualties in the Kalinga 
war indicates that Asoka must have employed a large 
force to reduce the country. 

The arms, when not in use, were stored in arsenals, 
and ranges ol* stables were provided for the horses and 
elephants. Chariots, when on the march, were drawn 
by oxen in order to spare the horses. Each war- 
chariot, which had a team of either two or four horses 
harnessed abreast, carried two fighting-men, besides 
the driver. The chariot when used as a state con- 
veyance was drawn by four horses. ' The victory of 
kings,' it was said, ' depends mainly upon elephants V 

1 Arfh'i.sustra, Bk. ii,eh. 2. The author lays down that' who- 
ever kills an elephant shall be put to death." 


which, consequently, were kept in vast hosts, number- 
ing many thousands. . Each war-elephant carried three 
fighting-men in addition to the driver. 

The interesting details given by Arrian concerning 
the equipment of the infantry and cavalry may be 
quoted in full : — 

' I proceed now,' he says, ' to describe the mode in which the 
Indians equip themselves for war, premising that it is not to 
be regarded as the only one in vogue. The foot-soldiers 
carry a bow of equal length with the man who bears it. 
This they rest upon the ground, and pressing against it with 
their left foot thus discharge the arrow, having drawn the 
string far backwards; for the shaft they use is little short of 
being three yards long, and there is nothing which can resist 
an Indian archer's shot — neither shield nor breastplate, nor 
any stronger defence if such there be. In their left hand 
they carry bucklers of undressed ox-hide, which are not so 
broad as those who carry them, but are about as long. 
Some are equipped with javelins instead of bows, but all 
wear a sword, which is broad in the blade, but not longer 
than three cubits ; and this, when they engage in close fight 
(which they do with reluctance), they wield with both hands, 
to fetch down a lustier blow. 

The horsemen are equipped with two lances like the lances 
called saunia, and with a shorter buckler than that carried 
by the foot-soldiers. But they do not put saddles on their 
horses, nor do they curb them with bits like the bits in use 
among the Greeks or Kelts, but they fit on round the ex- 
tremity of the horse's mouth a circular piece of stitched raw 
ox-hide studded with pricks of iron or brass pointing inwards, 
but not very sharp; if a man is rich he uses pricks made of 
ivory. Within the horse's mouth is put an iron prong like a 
skewer, to which the reins are attached. When the rider. 

104 ASOKA 

then, pulls the reins, the prong controls the hone, and the 
pricks which arc attached to this prong goad the mouth, so 
thai it cannot but obey thereinsV 

The development during the ninety years of Maurya 
rule of a system of civil, military, and church govern- 
ment so complex and highly organized is matter for 
legitimate astonishment The records of Alexander's 
invasion disclose the existence of a multitude of inde- 
pendent state.- governed either by Rajas or tribal 
oligarchies, constantly at war with one another and 
free from all control by a superior power. It is true 
that, even in those days, Magadha occupied the 
premier position, but the Nanda king of that state 
made no claim to be the Lord Paramount of India. 
The conception of an Indian Empire, extending from 
sea to sea. and embracing almost the whole of India 
and Afghanistan, was formed and carried into effect 
by Chandragupta and his minister in the brief Bpace 
of twenty- tour years. History can show few greater 
political achievements. Not only was the empire 
formed, but it was so thoroughly organized that the 

1 Ariian, Indika, ch. xvi, transl. McCrindle [Megasthenes, p. 

220). A nearly life-sized figure of an infantry soldier armed as 
described by Megasthenes is reproduced by Cunningham, Stujxi 
of Bharhut, PI. xxxii, 1. For shapes of Indian arms at the 
beginning of the Christian era, see Cunningham, Bhilsa Topes. 
p. 217, PI. xxxiii ; Maisey, S&nchi, Fl. xxxv, xxxvi. A long list 
of weapons and military engines is given in Artha&Astra, Bk. ii, 
ch. 18. Tennent {Ceylon, 3rd ed., p. 499) compares the Veddah 
mode of holding the bow with the foot, but it is quite different, 
the bow not being rested on the ground. 


sovereign's commands emanating from Pataliputra 
were obeyed without demur on the banks of the 
Indus and the shores of the Arabian sea. The 
immense heritage thus created by the genius of the 
first emperor of India was transmitted intact to his 
son and grandson, and all three monarchs were in 
a position to assert their equality with the leading 
Hellenistic princes of the age. The figure of Bin- 
dusara, hidden in the darkness, eludes our view, and 
we can only assume that his capacity must have 
been equal to the task imposed upon him by his 
birth, because otherwise it would have been im- 
possible for him to pass on to his famous son the 
splendid dominion which Asoka ruled with so much 

Dim though the picture be in many of its details, 
the figure of Asoka takes an honourable place in 
the gallery of the greatest kings known to history. 
In a sense we know him better than we know any 
other ancient monarch, because he speaks to us in 
his own words. It is impossible, I think, for any 
student to read the edicts with care, and not to 
hear the voice of the king himself. The abrupt 
transitions from the third to the first person, from 
oratio obliqua to oratio directa, which embarrass the 
translator, and produced on early interpreters the 
erroneous impression of clumsy composition, are of 
the deepest interest when regarded as devices for 
inserting in official proclamations the very words of 
the sovereign. We can discern a man of strong will, 

106 ASOKA 

unwearied application, and high aims, who spared no 
labour in the pursuit of his ideals, possessed the 
mental grasp capable of forming the vast conception 
of missionary enterprise in three continents, and was 
at the same time able to control the intricate affairs 
of ( "hurch and State in an empire which the most 
powerful sovereign might envy. His plan of com- 
mitting to the faithful keeping of the rocks his code 
of moral duty was equally original and bold, and 
his intense desire that his measures should result in 
the ' long endurance ' of the Good Law as taught in 
his ordinances has been fulfilled in no small measure 
by the preservation of some thirty-five separate 
documents to this day. 

His government — a theocracy without a God — 
concerned itself, like that of Charlemagne, equally 
with Church and State, and, so far as we can judge, 
attained no small success. The number, costliness, 
and magnitude of his buildings and monuments are 
enough in themselves to prove that the empire in 
which the erection of such works was possible must 
have been rich and tranquil. 

We need not be surprised that the fabric collapsed 
after his death ; the wonder rather is that it held 
together so long. 


The Monuments 

The extravagant legend which ascribes to Asoka 
the erection of eighty -four thousand dv/pas, 'topes,' 
or sacred cupolas, within the space of three years, 
proves the depth of the impression made upon the 
popular imagination by the number, magnitude, and 
magnificence of the great Maurya's architectural 
achievements 1 . So imposing were his works that 
they were universally believed to have been wrought 
by supernatural agency. 

1 The royal palace and halls in the midst of the city (scil. 
Pataliputra), which exist now as of old, were all made by 
spirits which he employed, and which piled up the stones, 
reared the walls and gates, and executed the elegant carving 
and inlaid sculpture-work in a way which no human hands 
of this world could accomplish 2 .' 

1 84,000 dharmardjikds built by Asoka Dharmaraja, as stated 
by Divydvaddna (ed. Cowell & Neil, p. 379, quoted by Foucher, 
Icon. Bouddhiqiie, p. 55 n.). In the MS. miniature the words 
Rddhya-Dharmardjikd-chaittjah denote the stupa and one-story 
monastery beside the Radhya Pillar (ibid., p. 195). 

2 Fa-hien, Travels, ch. xxvii, transl. Legge. Giles's version 
differs somewhat: — 'The king's palace and courts were all con- 
structed by spirits whom he employed to pile stones, build 
walls and gates, carve ornamental designs and engrave — truly 

ioS A SO K.I 

Thus wrote the simple-minded Fa-hien at the begin- 
ning of the fifth century. More than two hundred 
years later, when Hiuen Tsang travelled, the ancient 
imperial city was deserted and in ruins, the effect of 
the departure of the court and the ravages of the 
White Huns. Now. 

• The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palac 
The solemn temples/ 

lie buried deep below the s ilt of the Sun and (ianges 
rivers, serving as r foundation for the city of Patna, 
the civil station of Hankipore. sundry villages, and 
the East Indian Railway. 

No example of the secular architecture of Asokas 
reign lias Burvived in a condition such as would 
permit of it> plan and style l"dnL,' studiefL Local 
tradition indicates the extensive buried ruins at and 
near the village <•!' ELumrahar, to the south of the rail- 
way line connecting Bankipore and Patna, as the sit'- 
<>l' the palace of the ancient kings, and the tradition 
probably embodies the truth. Mr. Mukharji discovered 
innumerable fragments of an Asoka pillar between 
the Kallu and Chaman tank^ to the north of the 
village. The pillar, which was of polished sandstone 
as usual, was about 3 feet in diameter, and evi- 
dently had been broken up by heaping round it 
a mass of inflammable material which was then set 
on fire. The similar pillar, to the north-east of 

not the work of mortals. These *till exist.' Beal, like Legge, 
places the palace ' in the city.' and according to him ; the ruins 

still exist." 


Benares City, the stump of which is now known as 
Lat Bhairo, was destroyed in that way by the local 
Muhammadans during the great riot of 1805. Many 
sculptures and other remains at Kumrahar indicate 
the importance of the site. But another palace must 
have been situated somewhere inside the city walls and 
a second Asoka pillar is said to exist buried in Patna 
City 1 . Most of the remains at and near Patna are 
practically inaccessible, and the desultory excavations 
carried out on several occasions have not sufficed to 
establish many results of definite value. If the 
exploration of the site is ever taken up seriously, it 
will need to be done in another fashion and will be 
a long and costly business. 

The numerous and stately monasteries which Asoka 
erected at many places in the empire have shared the 
fate of his palaces, not even one surviving in a re- 
cognizable state. Such structures were extremely 
numerous. Hiuen Tsang mentions more than eighty 
stUpas and monasteries ascribed to Asoka, without 
counting the legendary five hundred convents in 
Kashmir and other large indefinite groups in other 
countries. The Asokarama, or Kukkutarama, the 'Cock 
Monastery,' which was the first-fruits of the emperor's 
zeal as a convert, and accommodated a thousand 

1 At Kallu Khan's Bagh, in the zenana of Maulavis Muham- 
mad Kabir and Amir, buried several feet below the courtyard, 
and so thick that two men joining their arms could not encircle 
it (Mukharji's unpubl. Eeport, p. 17). For Lat Bhairo see the 
author's paper in Z. D. M. G. for 1 909. 

iro ASOKA 

monks, stood on the south-eastorn sid<* of tho capital, 
but has not been identified, which is not surprising, 
as it had been already long in ruins at the time of 
Hiuen Tsang's visit in the seventh century. Accord- 
ing to Taranath, the great monastic establishment 
at jSalanda near Kajagriha, which became tho head 
quarters of Indian Buddhism, was founded by Asoka, 
who erected splendid buildings there. It seems likely 
that excavation on the site of Nalanda. which is well 
defined and easily accessible, might yield results far 
richer than can be hoped for at Patna. The explorations 
at Nalanda up to the present time have been of the 
most superficial kind. 

The BttyxM, or cupolas, on which the emperor 
lavished so much treasure, have been more fortunate 
than the palaces and monasteries in that one group of 
buildings of this class, thanks to its situation in an 
out-of-the-way locality, survived destruction, and 
would now be tolerably perfect but for the ravages 
of English amateur archaeologists in tho early part 
of the nineteenth century. The group alluded to 
is that at and near Sanchi in the Bhopal State, 
Central India (lat. 23° 29/ N., long. 77 45' E.), which 
included ten Btdpas, besides the remains of other 
buildings, as late as the year 1818 \ 

A sti A i])<( } it should be explained, was usually 
destined either to enshrine a casket containing the 
relics of a Buddha or other saint, or simply to mark 

1 These buildings nre not mentioned by the Chinese 


permanently the reputed scene of some incident 
famous in the history of the Buddhist Church j but 
occasionally one was erected merely in honour of 
a Buddha. The form undoubtedly was derived from 
that of an earthen burial tumulus, and the older the 
stupa, the nearer it approaches in design to its pro- 
totype. In Asoka's age a stupa was a nearly hemi- 
spherical mass of solid masonry, either brick or stone, 
resting upon a plinth which formed a perambulation 
path for worshippers, and flattened at the top to carry 
a square altar-shaped structure, which was sur- 
mounted by a series of stone umbrellas one above 
the other. The base was frequently surrounded by 
a stone railing, the pillars, bars, and coping-stones 
of which might be either quite plain or adorned by 
all the resources of sculpture in relief. Sometimes 
the entrances through the railings were equipped 
with elaborate gateways (tor anas), resembling in 
style those still common in China, and covered with 
the most elaborate carvings. 

The principal stUpa at Sanchi, which stands on the 
top of a hill and is a conspicuous object as seen from 
the Indian Midland Railway, is a segment of a sphere, 
built of red sandstone blocks, with a diameter of no 
feet at the base of the dome. The diameter of the 
plinth or berm is 1 2 1 \ feet, and the total height of 
the monument when perfect is believed to have been 
about 77^ feet. It is enclosed by a massive plain 
stone railing with monolithic pillars n feet high, 
entrance being effected through four highly ornate 

ii2 ASOKA 

gateways, 34 feet in height, covered with a pro- 
fusion of relief sculptures illustrating the Buddhist 
scriptures. Casts of the eastern gateway now at 
South Kensington and in several other museums can 
be examined conveniently at leisure. The existing 
etiipa and plain railing are believed to date from 
Asoka's reign, but the elaborate gateways may be 
about a century later. The other otiXpas in the 
neighbourhood, which are all more or Lett similar 
in form, have yielded some interesting relie- 
as mentioned in Chapter I. A mutilated pillar to the 
south bears a fragment of an edict of Asoka, and 
many sculptures and inscriptions of interest have 
been found. A broken standing statue of a saint 
with a halo which once surmounted the northern 
detached pillar near the great etiXpa was considered 
by Cunningham t<> be one of the finest specimens of 
Indian sculpture, but I have never seen a photograph 
or drawing of it sufficient to justify a judgement on 
tbe artistic merits of the work 1 . 

1 Cunningham. 77c Bhilsa Topes (London, 1854); Arel 
Report*, vol. x (1889, p. 56) ; Fcrgusson, Tree and Serpent Wor- 
ship (2nd ed., 1S731: /.'//. ImL, ii. 87, 366; and other works 
cited by Burgess in J.R.A.S., 1902, pp. 29-45. Of late years 
much has been done to conserve and restore the Sanchi group of 
buildings, and an immense mass of photographs has been 
collected, but nobody has ventured to tackle the pile of material 
and prepare an adequate account of the remains. Mr. Cousene 
gives reason for believing that the original etiipa existed before 
Asoka's time (Prog, Rep. A. 8. If. /., 1899-1900, p. 4). He 
has photographed the pieces of the statue (negative 1861), and 
gives a plan of the etttpa drawn to scale. 


A very interesting relic, belonging in part to the 
age of Asoka, was discovered by Sir Alexander 
Cunningham in 1873 a ^ Bharhut, a village in the 
Nagaudh (Nagod) State of Baghelkhand, about ninety- 
five miles south-west from Allahabad. He found 
there the remains of a brick stujxi of moderate 
size, nearly 68 feet in diameter, surrounded by an 
elaborately carved railing bearing numerous dedicatory 
inscriptions in characters closely resembling those of 
Asoka's records. The stupa had been covered with 
a coat of plaster, in which hundreds of triangular- 
shaped recesses had been made for the reception of 
lights to illuminate the monument. It was the 
practice of the Indian Buddhists, as it is that of their 
co-religionists now in Burma, to decorate their holy 
buildings on festival days in every possible way, 
with flowers, garlands, banners, and lights. 

The sttijja has, I believe, wholly disappeared, and 
portions of the richly sculptured railing have been 
saved only by the precaution of removing them to 
Calcutta, where they now form one of the principal 
treasures of the Indian Museum. The railing was 
a little more than 7 feet high, and was divided 
into quadrants by openings facing the cardinal points, 
which were framed in elaborate gateways similar to 
those at Sanchi. The sculptures of the railing and 
gateways were principally devoted to the illustration 
of the Buddhist Jdtakas, or Birth stories. As at 
Sanchi, the buildings were of different ages, the 
tdupa itself probably dating from the time of Asoka, 

ii4 ASOKA 

while one of the gateways is known to have been 
erected in the days of the Sunga kings, who suc- 
ceeded the Mauryas. The railing, which may have 
been considerably earlier than the gateways, wae 
composed of pillars, three cross-bars or rails, and 
a heavy eoping. Each of the pillars is a monolith 
bearing a central medallion on each face, with a half 
medallion at the top and another at the bottom. 
Even- member of the structure is covered with rich 
and spirited Beulptnre in low relief, which is of 
exceptional interest for the history of Buddhism, 
because it is interpreted to a large extent by con- 
temporary explanatory inscriptions '. 

The more or Less Bimilar railing, fragments of 
which exist at Bodh Gaya, has been generally desig- 
nated as the * Asoka railing,' but really belongs, like 
the Bharhut gateway, to Songa times-. B&bu P, C. 
Mukharji found at Patna parts of at least three stone 
railings, some of which must date from Asoka's reign. 
The inscribed and sculptured railing at Besnagar, near 
Bhilsa or Bhalsa, and not far from Sanchi, certainly 
belongs approximately to the time of Asoka. The 
sculptures are similar to those at Bharhut and Sanchi 3 . 

1 Cunningham wrote 'Bharhut, 1 and others spell 'Bharaut,' 
but the late Diwan of Kewa told rne that the correct spelling is 
'Barhut 1 The ruins are not so far from Allahabad as 
Cunningham estimated. They are described in his special 
monograph, The Stupa of Bharhut (London, 1879). The in- 
scriptions are dealt with in Ind, Ant. y xiv. 138 ; xxi. 225. 

- Marshall, J. B.A.S., 1908, p. 1096, PL iv. 

;i Cunningham. Reports, x. 38. PL xiii. 


The progress of the excavations at Sarnath may be 
expected to disclose more remains of the Maurya age, 
but they are difficult to get at, being buried under 
the buildings of later generations. 

In ancient India, as is now a common practice in 
China, both the Buddhists and the Jains were in the 
habit of defraying the cost of expensive religious 
edifices by subscription, each subscriber or group of 
subscribers being given the credit of having con- 
tributed a particular pillar, coping-stone, or other 
portion of the edifice on which the contributor's name 
was inscribed. The subscriptions, of course, must 
have been collected in cash, the work being carried 
out by the architect according to plan. The record 
of individual donors was intended not only to gratify 
their vanity and the natural desire for the perpetua- 
tion of their names, but also for the practical pur- 
pose of securing for themselves and their families an 
accumulation of spiritual merit to serve as a defence 
against the dangers of rebirth. This special purpose 
is frequently expressed in the Indian records. Dedica- 
tory inscriptions were very numerous at Bharhut. It 
is interesting to observe that the same practice of 
building by subscription existed in Hellenistic Asia. 
At the temple of Labranda in Caria, dating from the 
reign of Nero, or a little later, Sir Charles Fellows 
found twelve fluted columns, each of which bore 
a panel recording that it was the gift of such and such 
a person 1 . 

1 Fellows, Asia Minor (London, 1838), pp.261, 331, and plate. 
II % 


Besides the statue oi' the saint at Sanchi already 
noticed, two or three other examples of sculpture in 
the round apparently assignable to the Maurya period 
are known. The most remarkable is the inscribed 
colossal statue of a man found at Park ham. a village 


between Agra and Mathura. The figure, executed in 
grey sandstone highly polished, stands about 7 feet 
high, and is massive, if not clumsy, in its propor- 
tions. The face, unfortunately, is mutilated and the 
arms have been broken off. The dress, a loose robe 
confined by two broad bands, one below the breast 
and the other round the loins, is peculiar. The 
inscription, which has not been edited properly, 
mm ins to be in characters substantially identical with 
those used in the edicts \ 

A colossal female statue. 6 feet 7 inches in height, 
uninscribed, but supposed on account of the costume 
to belong to the same period, was found at Besnagar, 
and is specially noteworthy as being the only known 
early female figure in the round. The anus are 
missing and the face is damaged, but so far as I can 
judge from a photograph, the work is of considerable 
merit 2 . If other specimens of independent statues 
belonging to the Maurya age exist they are of 
inferior interest. 

Asoka took special delight in erecting monolithic 

1 Cunningham, Reports, xx. 40, PI. vi. The meaning of the 
statue, which has no obvious connexion with Buddhism, is not 

3 Ibid., x. 44. 


pillars, inscribed and uninscribecl, in great numbers 
and designed on a magnificent scale, regardless of cost. 
These pillars, many of which, more or less complete, 
are known, give us a better notion of the treasure, 
taste, and skill lavished upon Asoka's architectural 
works than do any of the other monuments. Hiuen 
Tsang mentions specifically sixteen of such pillars, 
four or five of which can be identified with existing 
monuments more or less convincingly ; and, on the 
other hand, most of the extant pillars are not referred 
to by the Chinese pilgrim. The inscribed pillars now 
known number ten, of which only two can be posi- 
tively identified with those noticed by him. Fortu- 
nately, two pillars — one uninscribed, the other bearing 
a copy of the first six Pillar Edicts — still stand in 
a condition practically perfect, and a detailed descrip- 
tion of these will suffice to give the reader an adequate 
notion of the whole class. The recent discovery of 
the magnificent capital of the Sarnath pillar has 
revealed the finest example of Maurya art known to 

The perfect, uninscribed pillar at Bakhira near 
Basar, the ancient Vaisadi, in the Muzaffarpur District, 
N. Bihar, is a monolith of fine sandstone, highly 
polished for its whole length of 32 feet above the 
water level. A square pedestal with three steps is 
said to exist under water. The shaft tapers uniformly 
from a diameter of 49-8 inches at the water level to 
387 at the top. The principal member of the capital, 
2 feet 10 inches in height, is bell-shaped in the Perse- 

tt8 ASOKA 

politan style, and is surmounted by an oblong abacus 
12 inches high, which servos as a pedestal for a lion 
seated on its haunohes, and 4* feet in height. Two or 
three mouldings are inserted between the shaft and 
the bell capital, and one intervenes between the latter 
and the abacus. The total height above the level of 
the water is 44 feet 2 inches. Including the sub- 
merged portion the length of the monument cannot 
be less than 50 feet, and its weight is estimated to be 
50 tons l . 

The inscribed Lauriya-Nandangarb or Mathiah 
pillar in the Ohamparan District, N. Bihar, resembles 
that at BakhirA in general design, bat is lighter and 
Less massive, and consequently very graceful (Frontie- 
piea i. The polished shaft, 32 feet 9^ inches in height, 
diminishes from a base diameter of 35J inches to a 
diameter of only 22J inches at the top. The abacus, 
which is circular instead of oblong, is decorated on 
the edge with an artistic bas-relief representing a row 
of geese pecking their food. The height of the capital 
including the lion, which faces the rising sun, is 6 feet 
10 inches, and consequently the entire monument is 
nearly 40 feet high. The cable-string courses and 
'egg and dart' ovolo which serve as mouldings are 
admirably executed, and the design and workmanship 
of the whole are rightly praised as displaying both 
knowledge and power 2 . 

1 Cunningham, Report^ i. 56: xvi. 12. 

1 Tbid, i. 73. PI. xxiv ; xvi. 104. PI. xxvii (copied in frontis- 
piece); Caddy, in Proc A.S.B., 1895, p. 155. The correct 


The circular abacus of the Allahabad pillar is 
decorated, instead of the geese, with a graceful scroll 
of alternate lotus and honeysuckle, resting on a 
beaded astragalus moulding, seemingly of Greek 
origin. According to tradition the monument was 
originally surmounted by a lion, and in 1838 a 
Captain Smith of the Eoyal Engineers was com- 
missioned to design a new capital in the style of 
the Bakhira and Lauriya-Nandangarh pillars. But 
his attempt was a lamentable failure and resulted 
in a monstrosity which Cunningham considered to 
be c not unlike a stuffed poodle stuck on the top of 
an inverted flower-pot.' Many years have passed 
since I saw the thing, but I suppose it is still 

Two mutilated pillars exist at Rampurwa in the 
Champaran District. The one which bears a copy of 
the first six Pillar Edicts was surmounted by a finely 
designed lion, recently discovered buried close by. 
Mr. Marshall notes that the * muscles and thews of the 
beast are vigorously modelled, and though convention- 
alized in certain particulars, it is endowed with a 
vitality and strength which rank it among the finest 
sculptures of the Maurya period.' The companion 
uninscribed pillar had a bull capital, also discovered 
by research, but unfortunately much injured. The 

name of the neighbouring village is Nandangarh, not 
Navandgarh, as stated by Cunningham. 

1 Cunningham, Reports, i. 298-3CO ; Inscriptions of Asoka, 
P- 37- 

120 ASOR'/I 

bell section of the lion capital was attached to the 
shaft by a barrel-shaped bolt of pure copper, measur- 
ing 2 feet o£ inch in length, with a diameter of 
4 T 5 ^ inches in the centre, and $| inches at each end, 
which was accurately fitted without cement '. 

The line of pillars in the Muzaffarpur and Champaran 
Districts at Bakhira (Vaisali), Lauriya-Araraj (Rad- 
hiah), Lauriya-Nandangarh (Mathiah), and Rampurwd 
evidently marks the course of tho royal road from 
the northern bank of the Ganges opposite the capital 
to the Nepal valley. The hamlet of R&mpnrwA ii 
not far from the foot of the hills. Three of the five 
pillars are inscribed with practically identical copies 
of the first six Pillar Edicts, which were thus pub- 
lished for the edification of travellers along the high 
road. The other known pillars were all placed in 
equally conspicuous position- ai important cities. 
places of pilgrimage, or on frequented roads in the 
home provinces. No pillar has yet been found in the 
distant provinces, where the Rock Edicts were incised. 
The pillars are all composed of fine sandstone, quarried 
in most cases apparently at Chanar (Chunar) in the 
Mirzapur District, and w r cro frequently erected at 
localities hundreds of miles distant from any quarry 
capable of supplying the exceptionally choice blocks 
required for such huge monoliths. Their fabrication, 
conveyance, and erection bear eloquent testimony to 

1 Cunningham, Reports, xvi. 112. PL xxviii ; xxii. 51, PL vi, 
vii : Marshall. J.R.A.S., 1908, pp. 1085-8. PL L The copper 
bolt is in the Indian Museum. Calcutta. 


the skill and resource of the stonecutters and engineers 
of the Maurya age. 

Sixteen centuries later, in a.d. 1356, the two Asoka 
pillars which now stand near Delhi on the Kothila 
and the Ridge respectively were transported by Sultan 
Firoz Shah the one from Topra in the Ambala 
(Umballa) District, now in the Panjab, and the other 
from Mirath (Meerut) in the United Provinces. The 
process of removal of the Topra monument has been 
described by a contemporary author, whose graphic 
account is worth transcribing as showing the nature 
of the difficulties so frequently and successfully sur- 
mounted by Asoka's engineers. 

The historian relates that — 

' After Sultan Firoz returned from his expedition against 
Thatta he often made excursions in the neighbourhood of 
Delhi. In this part of the country there were two stone 
columns. One was in the village of Topra in the District of 
Sadhaura and Khizrabad, at the foot of the hills, the other in 
the vicinity of the town of Mirath. . . . When Firoz Shah 
first beheld these columns he was filled with admiration and 
resolved to remove them with great care as trophies to Delhi. 

Khizrabad is 90 kos from Delhi, in the vicinity of the hills. 
When the Sultan visited that District and saw the column 
in the village of Topra, he resolved to remove it to Delhi 
and there erect it as a memorial to future generations. After 
thinking over the best means of lowering the column, orders 
were issued commanding the attendance of all the people 
dwelling in the neighbourhood, within and without the Doab, 
and all soldiers, both horse and foot. They were ordered to 
bring all implements and materials suitable for the work. 
Directions were issued for bringing parcels of the sembal 


(silk-cotton) tree 1 . Quantities of tliis silk-cotton were 
placed round the column, and when the earth at its base was 
removed, it fell gently over on the bed prepared for it. The 
cotton was then removed by degrees, and after some days the 
pillar lay Bafe upon the ground. "When the foundations 
of the pillar were examined, a large square stone was found 
as a base, which also was taken out. 

The pillar was then encased from top to bottom in reeds 
and raw skint, BO that DO damage might accrue to it. A car- 
riage with forty-two wheels was constructed, and ropes were 
attached to each wheeL Thousands of men hauled at every 
rope, and alter great labour and difficulty the pillar 
raised on to the carriage. A strong rope was fastened to 
each wheel, and 200 men [42 X 200 = 8,400] pulled at each 
of these ropes. By the simultaneous exertions of bo many 
thousand men, the carriage was moved, and was brought to 

the banks of the Jumna. Here the Sultan came to meet it. 
A number of large boat- had been collected, some of which 
could carry 5.000 and 7.000 maunds of grain, and the least of 
them 2,000 maunds. The column wa> very ingeniously 
transferred to these boats, and was then conducted to 
Firozab&d, where it was landed and conveyed into the 
Kushk with infinite labour and skill. 

At this time the author of this book Mas twelve years of 
age and a pupil of the respected Mir Khan. When the 
pillar wis brought to the palace, a building was commenced 
for its reception near the J ami Masjid [mosque], and the 
most skilful architects and workmen were employed. It 
was constructed of stone and chunam [fine mortar], and con- 
sisted of several stages or steps. When a step was finished 
the column was raised on to it, another step was then built 
and the pillar was again raised, and so on in succession until 

1 $ali»alia Malabarica {pentapkyUum). The cotton obtained 
from this tree was used on account of its elasticity. 


it reached the intended height. On arriving at this stage, 
other contrivances had to be devised to place it in an erect 
position. Ropes of great thickness were obtained, and 
windlasses were placed on each of the six stages of the base. 
The ends of the ropes were fastened to the top of the 
pillar, and the other ends passed over the windlasses, which 
were firmly secured with many fastenings. The wheels 
were then turned, and the column was raised about half 
a gaz [yard]. Logs of wood and bags of cotton were then 
placed under it to prevent it sinking again. In this way, 
and by degrees, the column was raised to the perpendicular. 
Large beams were then placed round it as supports until 
quite a cage of scaffolding was formed. It was thus secured 
in an upright position straight as an arrow, without the 
smallest deviation from the perpendicular. The square stone 
before spoken of was placed under the pillar V 

Asoka erected about thirty or more such monu- 
ments. When labour so great was required to move 
one a distance of a hundred and twenty miles we may 
imagine how much energy was expended in setting 
up thirty pillars, some of which were much heavier 
than that removed by Firoz Shah, and were trans- 
ported to distances still greater. 

Ten of. the pillars known at present are inscribed. 
Six of these bear copies of the first six Pillar Edicts, 
the seventh edict, the most important of all, being 
found on one monument only, the Delhi-Topra pillar, 
the removal of which has been described. The 

1 Shams-i-Siraj, quoted in Cunningham, Reports, xiv. 78 ; and 
Carr Stephens, Archaeology of Delhi, p. 131 ; Elliot, Hist. India, 
iii. 350. 

124 ASOKA 

records on two pillars in the Nepalese Tarai com- 
memorate Asoka's visit to the Buddhist holy places 
in B.O. 249, and the Sanchi and Sarnath pillars are 
inscribed with variant recensions of the Minor Pillar 
Edict dealing with Church discipline. A detailed list 
of the inscribed pillars will he found at the end of 
this chapter. 

Many more pillars remain to he discovered. The 
two great monuments, one surmounted by the figure 
of a bull and the other by the wheel of the Law, 
which stood at the entrance of the famous Jetavana 
monastery near Sravasti, are said to exist : and not- 
withstanding certain recent finds which seem to con- 
trovert my opinion, I still believe that the ruins of 
Sravasti lie buried in Nepalese jungles on the upper 
course of the Kapti. The pillars which may prove 
to be those of the Jetavana are located by report 
near Bairat and ftftatiari in Tahsil Xepalganj. Otln-r 
pillars are rumoured to exist in the Nepalese Tarai to 
the north of Nicbhawal beyond the Gnakhpur frontier, 
and also at liarcwa and Maurangarh. north of the 
( "hamparan District l . 

Only two of the ten inscribed pillars known, 
namely, those at Rummindei and Sarnath. can 1>«- 
identified certainly with monuments noticed by Hiuen 
Tsang. A third, the Nigliva pillar, which does not 
occupy its original position, may or may not be the 
one which he mentions in connexion with the ettipa 
of Konakamana. There is, however, no doubt that 
1 Mukharji, Antiquities in the Tarai, Sepal, p. 59. 


seven out of the ten escaped notice in the pilgrim's 
memoirs. It is a curious fact that he never makes 
the slightest allusion to Asoka's edicts, whether 
incised on rocks or pillars. When he does refer to 
an alleged inscription of Asoka in the statement that 
a pillar at Pataliputra recorded the donation of all 
Jambudvipa to the Church, he is probably only 
retailing the gossip of local monks, who could not 
read the inscription and invented an interpretation. 
Similar fraudulent readings of old inscriptions are 
constantly offered by local guides ; thus, for example, 
Shams-i-Siraj relates that f certain infidel Hindus ' 
interpreted the inscription on the Delhi-Topra pillar 
to mean that ' no one would be able to remove the 
obelisk from its place till there should arise in the 
latter days a Muhammadan king named Sultan Firoz.' 
I do not believe for a moment that Asoka ever either 
perpetrated the folly of professing to give away all 
Jambudvipa or recorded on a monument the nonsense 
attributed to him. His real records are all thoroughly 
sensible and matter-of-fact. The reason that the 
Chinese pilgrim ignores them presumably must be 
that in his time, nine centuries after the execution of 
the inscriptions, nobody could read them. The 
alphabets current in India during the seventh century 
A.D., which are well known, differ widely from those 
used in the time of Asoka, and the difference is quite 
sufficient to account for his inscriptions being- 
regarded as illegible. By that time the true per- 
sonality of the great emperor had been covered up by 

126 ASOK.l 

a mass of mythological Legend, and nobody cared to 
.search for the genuine records of his reign. 

The wonderful rock inscriptions, although wanting 
in the artistic interest of the monolithic pillars, are 
in some respects the most interesting monuments of 
the reign. They are found at twelve distinct Localities 
in the more remote province- of the empire, and the 
contents may be described generally as sermons on 
dharma, or the I. aw of Piety. The longer documents 
are either variant recensions, more or less complete 
of the series known as the Fourteen Rock Edicts, or 
substitutes lor certain members of that series. The 
shorter records include tin' two documents classed as 
the Minor Hock Edicts, and the peculiar Bhabrd 
Edict. The inscriptions are found over an area 
oding from 34 20' to 14° 49/ N. lat, and from 
about 72° 15' to 85° 50' E. long., that is to say, twenty 
degrees of latitude, and thirteen of longitude. It is 
possible, and not improbable, that other examples 
remain to be discovered in Afghanistan and tribal 
territory beyond the north-western frontier, or even 
within the limits of India. 

Beginning from the north-west, the first set of 
inscriptions is found at Shahbazgarhi in the Yusufzai 
subdivision of the Peshawar District of the North- 
West Frontier Province, about forty miles to the 
north-east of Peshawar, and more than a thousand 
miles in a direct line distant from Asoka's capital. 
The principal inscription, containing all the Fourteen 
Edicts except the twelfth, is recorded on both 


the eastern and western faces of a mass of trap rock, 
24 feet long and 10 feet high, which lies on the slope 
of a hill to the south-east of the village. 

The Toleration Edict, No. XII discovered a few 
years ago by the late Sir Harold Deane, is incised on 
a separate rock about fifty yards distant from the main 
record. The text of all the documents, being nearly 
perfect, is of high value to the student *. 

The next recension in order is that at Mansahra 
(Mansera) in the Hazara District of the North- West 
Frontier Province, N. lat. 34 20', E. long. J3 13', about 
fifteen miles to the north of Abbottabad. The inscrip- 
tion not being near habitations or on any main line of 
road, the reason for the selection of this site, which is 
not apparent at first sight, has been made clear by 
Dr. Stein, who found an ancient road leading to a place 
of pilgrimage now called Breri. As at Rupnath and 
Girnar the inscription was placed so as to catch the 
eye of pilgrims. The text is less complete than that 
at Shahbazgarhi 2 . Both of the north-western versions 
agree in giving special prominence to the Toleration 
Edict, which at Mansahra has one side of the rock to 
itself, and at Shahbazgarhi is inscribed on a separate 

1 Ep. Ltd., i. 16; ii. 447; Cunningham, Reports, v. 9-22, 
PI. iii-v; Foucher, in n me Congresdes Oriental istes, Paris, p. 93. 
This recension is sometimes cited by the name of Kapurdagiri, 
a village two miles distant. 

2 Ep. Lid. ii. 447 ; Lid. Ant., xix (1890), p. 43, giving abstract 
of M. Senart's article in J. As. ; Stein, Prog. Report, A. S. N. W. 
Frontier Prov., 1904-5, p. 17. Breri is the Kashmiri equivalent 
of Bhattarika = Devi or Durga. 

i28 ASOKA 

rock. Both the recensions further agree in being 
inscribed in the form of Aramaic character, now 
generally called Kharoshthi, which is written from 
right to left, and appears to have been introduced by 
Persian officials into the north-western regions of 
India after the conquest of the Indus valley by 
Darius, son of Hystaspes, about B.O, joo. 

The third version of the Fourteen Edicts, and 
perhaps the most perfect of all, discovered in i860, is 
on a rock about a mile and a half to the south of the 
village of Kal>i (N. lat. 30° 32', E. long. 77° 51'), in the 
Dehra Dun District of the United Provinces, on the 
road from Saharanpur to the cantonment of Chakrata. 
and about fifteen miles westwards from the hill 
station ofMoMOOfie (Mansuri). The record is incised 
on the south-eastern face of a white quartz boulder 
shaped like the frustum of a pyramid, about jo feet 
in diameter at the base and 6 feet at the top, which 
stands at the foot of the upper of two terraces over- 
looking the junction of the Jumna and Tons rivers. 
The confluences of rivers being regarded as sacred the 
place probably used to be visited by pilgrims, and 
must have been chosen for that reason as a suitable 
spot for the inscription. Some pilasters and other 
wrought stones indicate the former existence of build- 
ings in the vicinity. The text agrees closely with the 
Mansahra version, but exhibits certain peculiarities. 
A well-drawn figure of an elephant labelled ' the 
superlative elephant' (yajatama) is incised on one 
side of the boulder. The character, as in all the 


Asoka inscriptions, excepting those at Mansahra and 
Shahbazgarhi, is an ancient form of the Brahmi script, 
written from left to right, and the parent of the 
modern Devanagari and allied alphabets. The alpha- 
betical forms used in the different inscriptions vary to 
some extent in details \ 

Two copies of the Fourteen Edicts were published 
at places on the western coast. The fragment found 
at Sopara, in the Thana District, to the north of 
Bombay, consisting of only a few words from the 
eighth edict, is enough to show that a copy of the set 
of documents once existed there. Sopara, still a 
prosperous country town (N. lat. 19° 25', E. long. 72 
48'), was an important port and mart under the name 
of Soparaka, Surparaka, or Shurparaka in ancient times 
for many centuries, and contained some notable Hindu 
and Buddhist edifices. At one time the sea appears 
to have come up to the walls of the town, but the 
channel has been silted up for ages 2 . 

The famous Girnar version, first described by 
Colonel Tod in 1822, lay buried in dense forest and 
might never have come to light had not a local 
notable made a causeway through the jungle for the 

1 The correct name is Kalsi, not Khalsi, as in the books. 
Cunningham, Reports, i. 244, PI. xl ; Inscriptions of Asoka, p. 12, 
PI. iv; Ep. Lid. ii. 447; Pioneer Mail, 23 Sept., 1904. The 
boulder is not in danger of erosion by the river, as was at one 
time feared. 

2 Ind. Ant., i. 321 ; iv. 282 ; vii. 259; Bhagwan Lai Indraji, 
'Sopara' (J. Bo. Br. R. A. S., 1882, reprint); Prog. Report, 
A. S. W.I. for 1897-8, pp. 7-10, with map. 

SMITH B. I. 1 

130 ASOKA 

benefit of pilgrims to the hill, which ia ouc of the 
most sacred places venerated by the Jains. The 
ancient town of Junagarh (fparkot), capital of a State 
in the peninsula of Rath ia war or Surashtra (N. lat. 
2i° 31', E. long. 70° 36'), stands between the Girnar 
and Datar hills. The Sudarsana hake constructed 
under the orders of Chandragupta Maurya and 
equipped with watercourses and sluices by Asoka's 
local representatives, filled the whole valley betw« en 
the Uparkot rocks on the west and the inscription 
rock on the east. That rock, a nearly hemispherical 
mass of granite, therefore stood on the margin of the 
lake, which disappeared long since. Indeed its very 
existence had been forgotten, and its limits have been 
traced with difficulty. The Fourteen Edicts are 
incised on the north-eastern face of the rock, the top 
being occupied by the valuable record of the Satrap 
Kudradaman (a. d. jjo) and the western face by the 
important inscriptions of Skandagupta's governor (a. i». 
457). The edicts have Buffered a good deal of injury, 
but some care is now taken to protect them. Im- 
perfect copies of them were the materials on which 
M. Senart was obliged to rely chiefly when writing 
his classical work on the inscriptions of Asoka ; but 
since then accurate copies have been taken, and in 
1899-19C0 two fragments, which had been separated 
from the rock, were recovered by Professor Rhys 
Davids l . 

1 A.S.W.L, vol. ii, p. 95, PL ix; l'roy. lkp. A.S. 11./.. 
189S-9, p. 15 ; J. R. A.S., 1900, p. 335. 


Two recensions of the Fourteen Edicts, with modi- 
fications, exist on the eastern side of India, near the 
coast of the Bay of Bengal, within the limits of the 
kingdom of Kalinga conquered by Asoka in b. c. 261. 
Both recensions agree in omitting Edicts XI, XII, and 
XIII, which were considered unsuitable locally, and in 
substituting for them the Borderers' and Provincials' 
Edicts specially drafted to meet the needs of the 
newly annexed province, and not published else- 

The northern copy is incised on a rock called 
Aswastama on the northern face and close to the 
summit of a hill near the village of Dhauli (N. lat. 20 
15', E. long. 85 50'), about seven miles to the south 
of Bhuvanesvar, in the Puri District, Orissa. The 
inscription occupies the prepared surface of a sloping 
sheet of stone, which is watched over from above by 
the well-executed fore-part of an elephant, about 
4 feet high, cut out of the solid rock. The viceregal 
town of Tosali appears to have been in the neighbour- 
hood 1 . 

The southern version is engraved on the face of 
a rock situated at an elevation of about 120 feet in a 
mass of granitic gneiss rising near the centre of an 
ancient walled town called Jaugada or Jogadh (N. lat. 
1 9 $$', E. long. 84 5c/) in the Ganjam District, 

1 Imp. Gazetteer (1908), s.v. Dhauli; Cunningham, Inscrip- 
tions of Asoka, p. 15 ; Reports, xiii. 95. A photograph of the 
elephant forms the frontispiece of E. Hist, of India (1908). 

I 2 

132 ASOKA 

Madras, which probably is the town Samapa men- 
tioned in the local edicts '. 

The Minor Rock Edicts, which are believed for 
the reasons stated in Chapter I (ante, p. 26) to be 
the earliest of the Asoka inscriptions, are found, like 
the Fourteen Rock Edicts, only in the remoter pro- 
vinces. The Beeond Minor Edict, consisting of a short 
summary of the Law of Piety, expressed in a style 
different from that of the other edicts, occurs in 
Mysore only, where three copies of it exist as a 
supplement to the first edict. Probably this supple- 
mentary document was composed in the office of the 
Prince of Suvarnagiri and published on his viceregal 
authority. The Mysore recensions <>f both the edict- 
were incised in three localities, all close to one 
another, in the Chitaldurg District of northern 
Mysore, namely, Siddapura (X. lat. 14 49', E. long. 
76° 47'). Jatinga-Bamesvara, and Brahmagiri. near 
the site of a large ancient town. Variant recension- 
of Edict I occur at Sahasram (N. lat. 24 57', E. long. 
84 j') in the Shahabad District. S. Bihar: Rupnath 
in the Jabalpur District. Central Provinces ; and at 
Bairat (N. lat. 27 27', E. long. 76 12') in the Jaypur 
State. Rajputana. That document gives a valuable 
account of the emperor's religious history and is 

1 Cunningham, Inner, of Anoka, p. 17; Reports, xiii. 112; 
Sewell. Lists of Ahitiq., Madras, i. 4; Ltd. Ant. i. 219; Sir W. 
Elliot in Mad. J. Lit. and Science, April-Sept. 1858, p. 75 ; 
Prog. Rep. A. S. Madras, 1903-4, 1904-5, 1906-7. The inscrip- 
tion is now protected by a roof and iron railing. 


devoted to the inculcation of his favourite precept, 
1 Let small and great exert themselves.' Thus it 
appears that Edict I was published in four widely 
separated regions, a clear proof that much importance 
was attached to its teaching. 

The Rupnath inscription was placed in a singularly 
wild and out-of-the-way glen, ' a perfect chaos of 
rocks and pools overshadowed by rugged precipices 
fifty to sixty feet high, in whose clefts and caverns 
wild beasts find a quiet refuge.' Indeed, while Mr. 
Cousens was taking a photograph, he was being 
watched by a panther crouching less than twenty 
yards away. The spot, which is still visited by 
pilgrims who worship the local deity as a form of 
Siva, became sacred by reason of the three pools one 
above another, which are connected in the rainy 
season by a lovely waterfall. The detached boulder 
upon which the edict is inscribed lies under a great 
tree just above the western margin of the lowest 
pool, and may have fallen from its original position 
higher up \ 

The Sahasram recension is engraved on the face of 
the rock in an artificial cave near the summit of a hill 
to the east of the town, now surmounted by a shrine 

1 Rupnath is 14 miles west of Sleemanabad Railway Station. 
Cousens, Prog. Rep. A. S. W. L, 1903-4, para. 113; Bloch, 
Annual Rep. A. S. E. Circle, 1907-8, p. 19. Dr. Bloch obtained 
a good impression of the inscription, which has not yet been 
published. See also Cunningham, Reports, vii. 58; ix. 38; and 
Inscr. of Asokct, p. 21. 

134 ASOKA 

of a Muhammadan saint. In Asoka's time the place 
must have been visited by Hindu pilgrims l . 

The Bairat version, discovered by Mr. Carlleylo in 
1872-3, is engraved on the lower part of the southern 
face of a huge block of volcanic rock 'as big as a 
house ' at the foot of the ' Pandas' hill ' close to the 
very ancient town of Bairat B . 

The peculiar Bhabra Edict, giving the list of Asoka's 
favourite passages of scripture, was incised on a 
boulder within the precincts of a Buddhist monastery 
on the top of another hill near the same town. Tin 
boulder is now preserved in Calcutta*. 

The caw dwellings exeavatod in the refractory 
gneiss of the Barabar and Nagarjuni hills near Gaya 
by Asoka and hi> grandson for the use of the Ajivikas, 
although not beautiful ae works "1" art. are wonderful 
monument- of patient skill and infinite labour, misap- 
plied as it seems to the modern observer. The largest 
i-> the Gopika cave dedicated by Dasaratha, which is 
46 feet 5 inches long by 19 feet 2 inches broad, with 
semicircular ends and a vaulted roof io§ feet in height. 
The whole of the interior is highly polished. The 
cost of such a work must have been enormous, and 
the expenditure of so much treasure on the Ajivikas 
is good evidence of the influential position held in 

1 Imp. Qa» Ueer 1 190S1. 8. v. Sasanun ; Cunningham, laser, of 
A*oka, p. 20. 

2 Cunningham, Reports, vi. 97; Inser. of Asoka, ]». 22. The 
hill has other names. 

3 The 'second Bairat rock 1 of Cunningham. Lt*<r. of Asoka, 
\k 24 : Repor/x, ii. 247. 


Asoka's clays by that now forgotten order of ascetics, 
who, although detested by orthodox Buddhists, were 
able to win favour from the sovereign who did 
{ reverence to all denominations V 

The arts in the age of Asoka undoubtedly had 
attained to a high standard of excellence. 

The royal engineers and architects were capable of 
designing and executing spacious and lofty edifices in 
brick, wood, and stone, of constructing massive em- 
bankments equipped with convenient sluices and 
other appliances, of extracting, chiselling, and handling 
enormous monoliths, and of excavating commodious 
chambers with burnished interiors in the most re- 
fractory rock. Sculpture was the handmaid of archi- 
tecture, and all buildings of importance were lavishly 
decorated with a profusion of ornamental patterns, an 
infinite variety of spirited bas-reliefs, and meritorious 
statues of men and animals. The rare detached 
statues of the human figure have been noticed. But the 

1 The caves are described by Cunningham, Lisa: of Asoka, pp. 
30-2 ; Reports, i, pp. 40-52, PI. xviii-xx ; and by Caddy, Proc 
A.S.B., 1895, pp. 156-8. 'The Ajivikas or naked ascetics. 
Tradition tells us that behind Jetavana [at Sravasti] they used 
to practise false austerities. A number of the Brethren seeing 
them painfully squatting on their heels, swinging in the air 
like bats, reclining on thorns, scorching themselves with five 
fires, and so forth, in their various false austerities, were moved 
to ask the BJessed One whether any good resulted there- 
from. "None whatever," answered the Master.' (Cowell and 
Francis, transl. Jdtahas, Introd. to No. 144, vol. i, p. 307.) 
See D. R. Bhandarkar, ' Epigraphic Notes and Questions,' 
J. Bo. Br. B. A. S., vol. xx. 

136 A SDK A 

lions on the monolithic pillars arc )>ctter. The newly 
discovered capital at Sarnath is described by Mr. Mar- 
shall in the following somewhat hold language, which 
is, however, justified hy the photographs: 'Lying 
near the column were the broken portions of the 
upper part of the shaft and a magnificent capital of the 
well-known Persepolitan hell-shaped type with four 
lions above, supporting in their midst a stone wheel 
or dha rnwu hakra . the symbol of the law first pro- 
mulgated at Sarnath. Both bell and lions are in an 
excellent state of preservation and masterpieces in 
point of both style and technique— the finest carvings, 
indeed, that India baa yet produced, and unsurpassed, 
1 venture to think, by anything of their kind in the 
ancient world '.' 

The skill of the stone-cutter may be said to have 
attained perfection, and to have accomplished tasks 
which would, perhaps, be found beyond the powers of 
the twentieth century. Gigantic shafts of hard sand- 
stone, thirty or forty feet in length, were dressed and 
proportioned with the utmost nicety, receiving a polish 
which no modern mason knows how to impart to 
the material. Enormous surfaces of the hardest gneiss 
were burnished like mirrors, bricks of huge dimensions 
were successfully fired, and the joints of masonry were 
fitted with extreme accuracy. White ants and other 
destructive agencies have prevented the preservation 
of any specimens of woodwork, save a few posts and 
beams buried in the silt of the rivers at Patna. but 
1 Annual Rep. A. S., 1904-5, p. 36. 


the character of the carpenter's art of the period is 
well known from the bas-relief pictures and from the 
railings and other forms in stone, which, as Fergusson 
so persistently urged, undoubtedly are copied from 
wooden prototypes. Burma teaches us that wooden 
architecture need not be lacking in dignity or mag- 
nificence, and we may feel assured that the timber 
structures which preceded the Bharhut rail and the 
Sanchi gateways were worthy of a powerful sovereign, 
a stately court, and a wealthy hierarchy. The beads, 
jewellery, and seals of the Maury a period and 
earlier ages which have been found from time to time 
prove that the ancient Indian lapidaries and gold- 
smiths were not inferior in delicacy of touch to those 
of any other country. The recorded descriptions and 
sculptured representations of chariots, harness, arms, 
accoutrements, dress, textile fabrics, and other articles 
of necessity or luxury indicate, that in the third 
century B.C. the Indian empire had attained a stage of 
material civilization fully equal to that reached under 
the famous Mughal emperors eighteen and nineteen 
hundred years later. 

The sculptures in bas-relief, even if they cannot be 
often described as beautiful, although some may be, 
are full of life and vigour, and frankly realistic. No 
attempt is made to idealize the objects depicted, al- 
though the artists have allowed their fancy consider- 
able play in the representations of tritons and other 
fabulous creatures. The pictorial scenes, even without 
the help of perspective, tell their stories vividly, and 


many of the figures are draws with much spirit. The 
purely decorative elements exhibit great variety of 
design, and some of the fruit and flower patterns are 
extremely elegant. Images of the Buddha were not 
known in the time of Asoka, and are consequently 
absent from his sculptures. The Teacher is repre- 
sented by symbols only, the empty Beat, the pair of 
foot-prints, tin- wheel. 

The Greek accounts, read along with the Edicts, 
leave on my mind the Impression that the civil and 
military government of the tfauryas was better 
organized than that of Akbar or Shahjahan. It is 
certain that the Greek authors speak with the utmost 
reaped of the power and resources of the kingdoms of 
the Prasii and Qangaridae, that is to si adha 

and Bengal, that Alexander considered Pdros to be 
a formidable opponent, and that Ohandragupta was 
able to defeat first the Macedonian garrisons and then 
Seleukos. The military strength of the government 
was reflected in the orderly civil polity and the 
developed state of the arts. 

The care taken to publish the imperial edicts and 
commemorative records by incising them in imperish- 
able characters, most skilfully executed, on rocks and 
pillars situated in great cities, on main lines of com- 
munication, or at sacred spots frequented by pilgrims, 
implies that a knowledge of reading and writing was 
widely diffused, and that many people must have been 
able to read the documents. The same inference may 
be drawn from the fact that the inscriptions are com- 


posed, not in any learned scholastic tongue, but in 
vernacular dialects intelligible to the common people, 
and modified when necessary to suit local needs. It 
is probable that learning was fostered by the numerous 
monasteries, and that the boys and girls in hundreds 
of villages learned their lessons from the monks and 
nuns, as they do now in Burma from the monks. 
Asoka, it should be noted, encouraged nunneries, and 
makes particular reference more than once to female 
lay disciples as well as to nuns. I think it likely that 
the percentage of literacy among the Buddhist popula- 
tion in Asoka's time was higher than it is now in many 
provinces of British India. The latest returns show 
that in the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, which 
include many great cities and ancient capitals, the 
number of persons per 1000 able to read and write 
amounts to only 57 males and 1 females. In Burma, 
where the Buddhist monasteries flourish, the corre- 
sponding figures are 378 and 45 \ I believe that the 
Buddhist monasteries and nunneries in the days of 
their glory must have been, on the whole, powerful 
agencies for good in India, and that the disappearance 
of Buddhism was a great loss to the country. 

Two scripts, as before observed, were in use. The 
Aramaic Kharoshthi, written from right to left, was 
ordinarily confined to the north-western corner of India, 
but the scribe of the Brahmagiri version of the Minor 
Rock Edicts showed off his knowledge by writing part 
of his signature in that character. The Brahmi script, 

1 The Indian Empire, Imp. Gazetteer, vol. iv (1907), p. 416. 


the parent of the Devanagari and most of the existing 
Indian alphabets, appears in the Asoka inscriptions 
and the nearly contemporary records at Bhattiprolu 
and in Ceylon in so many varieties that it must have 
been already in use for levera! centuries, although no 
extant example can be cited which is certainly earlier 
than Asoka. Buhler seems to have been right in 
deriving this script from Mesopotamia, and the date 
of its introduction into India may have been about 
B. c. 700 or 800. 

The story of tie- origins of the early civilization of 
India lias been very imperfectly investigated and still 
remains to be written. We can perceive dimly the 
main lines of communication by set and land along 
which the elements of the arts and Bciencea travelled 

to India from Egypt and the continent of Asia, but 
<>ur actual knowledge of the subject is extremely 
fragmentary. The imposing fabric of the Aohae- 

inenian empire evidently impressed the Indian mind, 
and several facts indicate the existence of a strong 
Persian influence on the Indian civilization of the 
Maurya age. 

The free use of pillars was the domiuant feature of 
Achaemenian architecture and Asoka's fondness for 
columns is in itself an indication of Persian influence. 
But no indirect inference is needed to prove the 
Persian origin of his monoliths which frankly repro- 
duce the Persepolitan bell-capital surmounted by 
animals, frequently placed back to back. The Sarnath 
capital described above (ante, p. 136). while unmistak- 


ably Persepolitan, is far less conventional than its 
prototypes, and much superior in both design and 
execution to anything in Persia, so far as I can 
ascertain. 1 The Persepolitan capital long continued 
to be used as a decorative element in Indian sculpture, 
and is common in the reliefs from Gandhara, the so- 
called Graeco-Buddhist school. 

The idea of issuing long proclamations engraved 
on the rocks most likely was suggested by the 
practice of Darius, and the special variation of using 
the proclamations as sermons may have been origin- 
ated by the inscription of that monarch at Naksh-i- 
Rustam, which is supposed to be 'preceptive not 
historical,' and to contain ' the last solemn admonition 
of Darius to his countrymen with respect to their 
future conduct in policy, morals, and religion.' But 
the text of that document, apparently, has not been 
published, so it cannot be compared in detail with 
the Edicts of Asoka. 2 The opening phrases of the 
Edicts, ' Thus saith his Sacred and Gracious Majesty,' 
and the like, recall, as has often been observed, the 
style of the Achaemenian records. 

Several minor details confirm the impression that the 
Maurya court was very sensible to the influence of 
the great empire to the west, so recently conquered 

1 Examples of Persian lion capitals may be seen in the 
Louvre, or reproduced in Perrot and Chipiez, History of Art in 
Persia (London, 1902). 

2 SirH. Rawlinson, Memoir on the Cuneiform, Inscriptions, vol. i, 
p. 312 ; Canon Rawlinson, Transl. of Herodotus, vol. iv, p. 177. 

142 ASOKA 

by Alexander. The Persian word dipi i'or ' writing ' 
occurs in the Shahb&agarhi version of the Kdicts ; 
the penalty of cropping the hair (ante, p. 100) was a 
Persian punishment l ; and the ceremonial washing of 
the king's hair, which Strabo, no doubt transcribing 
Megasthenes, mentions as an Indian custom, seems to 
be copied from the similar ceremony performed by 
Xerxes, as related by Herodotus 2 . The Persian title 
of Satrap, which continued to be used in Western India 
as late as the closing years of the fourth century A. D., 
is not recorded fur Maurya times. But the monolithic 
pillars alone are enough to prove the reality of the 
Persian Influence, and M. Le linn seems to be right in 
maintaining that earl] Indian art was very largely 
indebted to Persia for its inspiration '. The Hellenistic 
decorative motives, acanthus leaves, and so forth, 
which are common in ancient Indian sculpture, may 
have come through either Persia or Alexandria, or by 
both ways. The problems concerning the relation 
between Indian, Asiatic, and Hellenistic art have 
never been threshed out, and are too complex for 
discussion in these pages, but I may say that I am 
inclined to regard the early Indian bas-reliefs as 
translations, so to speak, of Alexandrian motives ; 
by which I mean that the scheme of composition 
is Hellenistic of the Alexandrian school, while the 

1 Athenaeum, July 19, 1902. 

1 Strabo, Bk. xv, ch. 69; transl. McCrindle, Ancient India, 
p, 75 ; Herodotus. Bk. ix. no ; Ind. Ant. xxxiv (1905), p. 202. 
3 Le Bon, Lex Monuments <te Vlwle (Paris, 1893), p. 15. 


spirit, subject, and details are pure Indian. M. Le Bon 
truly observes that ' la puissance de deformation du 
genie hindou est en effet si grande, que les formes 
empruntees subissent des transformations qui les 
rendent bientdt meconnaissables.' Many illustrations 
of this proposition in both plastic art and literature 
might be cited. When the Indians adopt and adapt 
a foreign suggestion they do it so cleverly and 
transmute the spirit of the work so completely that 
the imitation seems to be indigenous and original. 

It is, perhaps, advisable to remind the reader that 
the Persian art referred to was itself based upon 
Assyrian models, so that in a sense the Indian 
capitals may be described as Assyrian. But the bas- 
reliefs, while closely related to those of Alexandria, 
differ completely in style from the stiff formal bas- 
reliefs of Assyria and Persia. I believe it to be 
probable that India was never, up to quite recent 
times, more exposed to the impact of foreign ideas 
than it was during the Maurya age. All these 
matters, however, require much more attentive con- 
sideration than they have yet received, and here can 
be merely alluded to. But it seems clear that Indian 
art in the Maurya and Sunga periods, whatever may 
have been the nationality of the artists employed, 
attained a high standard of merit when compared 
with anything except the masterpieces of Greek 
genius, and that it would be quite worth while to 
determine its place in the history of the world's art. 

The inscriptions dispersed throughout the empire 

144 ASOK.l 

as described were written either at the capital or at 
the head quarters of one or other of the viceroys, 
and then made over to skilled stone-cutters for 
incision on the rocks and pillars. In the extreme 
north-west the Kharoshthi alphabet was used as 
being the best known locally: throughout the rest 
of the empire the Brahmi script wa> employed. The 
language was invariably a form of Prakrit, the 
vernacular language of the day. closely allied to 
Sanskrit, especially that of the Vedic variety, on the 
one hand, and to the modern vernaculars of the 
country on the other. The proclamations published 
in the home pro\ [noes are in the dialect of Magadha ; 
those Issued in more remote regions exhibit local 
peculiarities in spelling, vocabulary, and grammar. 
The various texts of the same edict sometimes differ 
to a small extent in Bubstanoe, certain versions being 
fuller than other-. 

Repetitions, after the manner of the Buddhist scrip- 
tures, are frequent, and were inserted designedly, as is 
explained in the Epilogue to the Fourteen Rock 
Edicts. The style was supposed by the earlier 
interpreters to be exceedingly uncouth and to display 
lack of facility in prose composition. But now that 
accurate texts are available and the language is better 
understood, the style is found to possess a considerable 
amount of force and simple dignity. The desire to 
give the sovereign's own words often, especially in 
the Kalinga Edicts, involves transitions from the 
third person to the first, which are embarrassing to 


the translator, but do not imply want of skill in 
composition. The following versions are as literal as 
differences of idiom will permit, and, if considered at all 
successful renderings, will, I hope, support my view of 
the style of the originals. The accuracy of the texts 
is wonderful. A clerical error or engraver's blunder 
very rarely occurs, and the beauty of the lettering 
may be judged from the facsimile of the Eummindei 
inscription in Plate II. I have seen the original 
twice, and can certify that it is quite as clear as the 
reduced copy of the impression. 

The reasons for treating all the inscriptions as 
anonymous and for adopting the renderings chosen 
for the royal titles have been stated in Chapter I (ante, 
pp. 20, 22). The subject headings, of course, are not 
in the originals. All recent studies of the inscriptions 
known to me have been utilized in the preparation 
of the revised versions, which differ materially from 
those published in the first edition. References will 
be found in the Bibliographical Note appended to 
Chapter V. 

Assuming the correctness of the chronology ac- 
cepted by M. Senart, Mr. F. W. Thomas, and myself, 
which is not admitted by all scholars, the extant 
inscriptions may be classified in order of date as 
follows : — 


Minor Rock Edicts 

' Eegnal Year.' 


Bhabra Edict 

? ditto 

? ditto. 

Fourteen Rock Edicts 

13th & 14th 

257 & 256. 





■ Regnal N ear.' 

Kalinga Edicts ? 14th or 15th 

Seven Pilhu- Edicts 27th & 28th 

Minor Pillar Edicts 29th to 38th 


Cave Dedications of Asoka 13th & 20th 

Tarai Commemorative Inscriptions 21st 

Cave Dedications of Dasaratha ist 

J'.. I . 
?256 or 255 
243 & 242. 
241 to 232. 

257 & 250. 






iMeerut ) 

On summit of Ko- 
thila in the rained 
city of Ftroz&b&d 
near Delhi ; trans- 
ported from Toprn 
in Ambala Di>t rid 
in A.i). 1 356 bv Sul- 
tan Firoz Tnghlak. 
On ridge al Delhi, 
broken ; removed 
from Mini thin a. d. 
1356 by Sultan Fi- 
roz, and Bel up in 
the grounds of his 
hunting-lodge near 
it- present position, 
where it was re- 
erected by the In- 
dian Government in 
Allahabad Near Ellenboroiigh 
Barracks in th.' 
Fort ; evidently re- 
moved from Kau- 
sambi, possibly by 
Sultan Firoz. 
At hamlet of Lauiiya, 
1 mile SW. of temple 
called Araraj- 

Bfahadeo, 20 miles 
NW. of Kesariya 

Lauriya - 

, 'Delhi-Sivalik' (Cun- 
ningham) ; ' lat of 
Firoz' or ' DV 
(Senart). Pillar 

Edicts I-VH nearly 
complete. Capital 

'DV (Senart). Pillar 
Edicts I-VI much 
mutilated. Capital 

Pillar Edicts I-VI ; 
Queen's Edict ; Kan- 
>ainbi Edict, all im- 
perfect. Capital 
modern, except the 

'Radhiah' or 'R.' 
(Senart). Pillar 

Edicts I-VI practi- 
cally perfect. Capital 
lo?t. According to 












stilpa, on the way 
to Bettia, in the 
Champaran Dis- 
trict, N. Bihar. It 
is 2I miles ESE. of 
Radhia orRahaiiya. 

Nearthe large village 
of Lauriya, on the 
direct road from 
Bettia to Nepal, 3 
miles N. of Mathiah, 
and 1 5 miles NNW. 
of Bettia, in the 
Champaran Dis- 

At Rampurwa ham- 
let, and more than 
a mile NE. of Pipa- 
riya village, about 
20 miles NNE. of 
No. 5, in same Dis- 
trict, 84 34' E. 
long., 27 15' 45" N. 
lat. Prostrate. 

At southern entrance 
to great stilpa of 
Sanchi, in Bhopal 
State, Central India, 

23 29',77 45' 
E.long. Fallen and 

NNW. of 'Jagat 
Sigh's stilpa ' at 
Sarnath, about 3^ 
miles N. of Benares*. 


the miniature repro- 
duced by Foucher 
(Icon. Bouddhique, 
p. 55) the pillar was 
surmounted by a 
Garnda, or winged 

'Mathiah' or 'M.' 
(Senart). Pillar 

Edicts I-VI practi- 
cally perfect. Lion 
capital slightly dam- 
aged by a cannon- 
shot in Aurangzeb's 
time (Frontispiece). 

Pillar Edicts I-VI 
well preserved. Bell- 
capital no wdetached 
from the pillar ; the 
crowning lion re- 
cently found buried 
at a short distance. 
The 'bull' pillar 
near is not inscribed. 

Minor Pillar Edict, 
imperfect, a variant 
of the edict on the 
Sarnath pillar, and 
also of the Kausambi 
Edict on the Allah- 
abad pillar. The 
fine capital with f bul- 
lions lies near. 

Minor Pillar Edict, 
nearly complete, 
being a fuller form 
of the Sanchi and 
Kausambi Edicts. 
The magnificent 
capital with four 
lions formerly sup- 
ported the 'wheel of 
the Law.' Discovered 
by Mr. Oertelin 1905. 

K 1 






Rummin- At shrine of Bum- 
del mindet, about 1 

mile N. of Padaria. 
2 miles N. of Bhag- 
wanpur in the Ne 

palese Tahsfl of thai 
name, and about 6 
miles NE. of Dulhfi 
in the British Dis- 
trict of Bast!. 

NiglSva ( »n wesl bank of Ni- 
glivafNigali iSagar, 
oear Nigllva village 
in Nepalese TarfiLi, 
north of the 
District, and aboni 
13 milei NW. of 

WO, 9, but not in 

original position. 

'Paderia' (Biihlen. 
Split by lightning, 
Init standing, the 
bell member of the 
Capital li<'s apart. 
but the crown in g 
member is missing. 
The commemorative 
inscription (Plate 
II 1 i> absolutely per- 

Imperfect commemo 
rative inscription 
in form similar to 
that of No. 9, and 
apparently of same 


The Rock Edicts 

The Minor Rock Edicts 


{The Rilpndth Text) 1 

1 Thus saith His Sacred Majesty 2 : — 

For more than two-and-a-half years I was a lay 
disciple, without, however, exerting myself strenuously. 
But it is more than a year since I joined the Order, 
and have exerted myself strenuously 3 . 

During that time the gods 4 who were regarded as 
true all over India 5 have been shown to be untrue. 

For this is the fruit of exertion. Nor is this to be 
attained by a great man only 6 , because even by the 

1 The best of the three northern texts ; the other two are at 
Bairat and Sahasram. A good impression of the Riipnath 
version has been obtained lately, and will be published soon. 

2 In these documents the title Piyadasi is not used. 

3 I follow the interpretation of the numeral words which is 
adopted by Mr. F. W. Thomas. 

4 'The gods,' apparently the devas, or popular deities. 
Compare the variation in the Brahmagiri text. But the word 
may be understood to mean the Brahmans, whom Hindus 
"regard as divine. 

5 'AH over India,' literally 'in Jambudvipa,' the mythical 
continent which included India. 

G ' A great man,' as Asoka; literally 'by (mere) greatness.' 

150 ASOKA 

small man who chooses to exert himself imm< 
heavenly bliss may be won. 

For this purpose has the precept been composed ' : — 

'• Let small and great exert themselves." 

My neighbours too should learn this Lesson ; and 
may BUCh exertion long endure ! 

And this purpose will grow — yea, it will grow 
immensely — at least one-and-a-half-fold will it in- 
crease in growth. 

And this purpose must be written on the rocks, 
both afar off and here ; and, wherever there is a stone 
pillar, it must bo written on bhe stone pillar ■. 

And according to this text, so far as your juris- 
diction extends, you must send it out everywhere 

By (me) while on tonr was the precept composed. 
256 (?) departures from staging-places (or possibly, 
days Bpent abroad *).' 

1 'Composed' (Jfco/i . no! 'preached 1 {9&v&pite) t bi in the 
Brahmagiri text ( tompare Pillar Edict VIT. sections 3, 4, where 
Asoka claims credit for having had precepts (in the plural) 
preached, and a (or 'the') precept (in the singular) oompofed. 
The reference, I think, u t<> the precept quoted in this Minor 
Rock Edict. 

2 Six rock-cut copies are known, but no copy on a pillar has 
been discovered yet. 

3 The discovery oftheSarnath Pillar Edict has cleared op 
the meaning of this sentence, which vras formerly misunder- 

4 I am fully convinced that the word vyuiha (in variant 
spellings) means Asoka himself, not Buddha, or any one 
else; but the exact rendering of the term is not certain. 
Mr. Thomas suggests that in the mysterious concluding words 
sata may be taken to mean satti% 'halting place,' or 'stage,' 
and this may be correct. He further suggests that the 256 
rtvdsd may be rendered as ' days Bpent abroad.' We reject the 
theory that the figures 25^ express a date. 



(Brahmagiri Text) 1 

' By command of the Prince and high officials at 
Suvarnagiri, the high officials at Isila are to be 
addressed with greetings, and further addressed as 
follows 2 : — 

His Sacred Majesty gives these instructions: — 

For more than two-and-a-half years I was a lay dis- 
ciple, without, however, exerting myself strenuously. 

But a year, in fact, more than a year ago 3 , I joined 
the Order 4 , and since then have exerted myself 
strenuously. During that time, the men, who, all 
over India, were regarded as true, have been, with 
their gods, shown to be untrue 5 . 

For this is the fruit of exertion. Nor is this to be 
attained by a great man only 6 , because even by the 
small man who chooses to exert himself immense 
heavenly bliss may be won. 

For this purpose has this precept been preached : — 

1 The best of the three Mysore texts. The language suggests 
that these documents were drafted in the secretariat of the 
Viceroy of the South. 

2 The towns named have not been identified. Biihler was 
inclined to look for Suvarnagiri somewhere in the Western 
Ghats. Isila must have been in Mysore close to Siddapura, 
The Prince (ayaputa = hmnara) apparently was the Viceroy of 
the South. 

3 The translation of the numeral words is, I think, correct, 
but opinions differ. 

4 'The Order' {samgha) =the Buddhist Church, or monastic 

5 The men referred to are the Brahmans, who are often 
treated as divine by Hindus. The Rupnath text, issued 
probably from the capital, mentions the gods only. 

6 'A great man, 1 like Asoka; literally, 'by (mere) greatness.' 

152 ASOKA 

'•Let [small] and great exert themselves to this 

My neighbours, too, should Learn this lesson; and 
may such exertion long endure I 

And this purpose will grow — yea, it will grow 
immensely — at least one-and-a-half-fold ] will it in- 
crease in growth. 

And the precept quoted above was preached by 
1 (me) on tour %$6 [? times] V 


( Brahmagiri Text) 

'Thus saith His Sacred Majesty: — 

Father and mother must be hearkened to ; similarly, 
respect for living creatures mast be firmly established ; 
truth must I"- Bpoken. These are the virtues of the 
Law of Piety which must be practised. Similarly, 
the teacher must be reverenced by the pupil, and 
towards relations fitting courtesy must be shown. 

This is the ancient nature (of piety)- this leads to 
length of days, and according to this men must act.' 
Written by Pada the scribe • 

1 ' One-and-a-half- fold,' used idiomatically to mean in 
large measure.' 

2 I accept Mr. Thomas's view concerning the word vyutha, 
and understand it to mean Asoka himself, who had in the space 
of more than a year travelled [vivas) 256 stages. Hindus 
would consider 256 = 16 2 = 32 x 8 = 64 x 4 to be a 'perfect 
number.' The Bahasr&m text gives the numerals 256 in both 
words and figures. It is impossible to discuss here the various 
interpretations suggested. The historical inferences from the 
interpretation adopted have been stated in Chapter I. 

3 This short document, appended only to the Mysore texts of 
Edict I. differs much in style from all the other edicU, and 
evidently was drawn up in the provincial secretariat. The 


asoka's favoukite passages of scripture 

' His Grace the King of Magadha 2 addresses the 
Church with greetings and bids its members prosperity 
and good health. 

You know, Reverend Sirs, how far extend my 
respect for and faith in the Buddha, the Sacred Law, 
and the Church 3 . 

compound li/pikarena, ' the scribe ' is written in the Kharoshthi 
script, as used in the Mansahra and Shahbazgarhi texts. 
Apparently Pada was a northerner and anxious to show off his 
knowledge of both alphabets. Compare the variant summaries 
of the Law in Rock Edicts III, IV, IX, XI, and Pillar Edict VII. 

1 This edict is so peculiar that it is placed by itself. I think 
that probably it was issued from the Bairat monastery at the 
same time as the Minor Rock Edict I, of which a copy is close 


2 Dr. Bloch, who has examined the original, tells me that 
the adjective Mdgadhe is certainly in the nominative, agreeing 
with lajd (raja), and not in the accusative, agreeing with 
sathgham, as hitherto read. We thus see Asoka the King, 
standing forth early in his reign as Head of the Church. 

3 Compare the ordination or initiation formula still used 
in Ceylon : — 

' I put my trust in Buddha ; 

I put my trust in the Law ; 

I put my trust in the Priesthood ; 

Again I put my trust in Buddha ; 

Again I put my trust in the Law ; 

Again I put my trust in the Priesthood ; 

Once more I put my trust in Buddha ; 

Once more I put my trust in the Law ; 

Once more I put my trust in the Priesthood.' 

(Warren, Buddhism in Translations, p. 396.) 
This is known as the formula of the Three Refuges, or the 
Three Jewels. 

154 ASOKA 

Whatsoever, Reverend Sirs, has been said by the 
Venerable Buddha, all of that has been well said. 

However, Reverend Sirs, if on rny own account 
I may point out (a particular text), I venture to 
adduce this one ] : — 

"Thus the Good Law will long endure -'." 

Reverend Sirs, those passages of the Law, to wit : — 

The Exaltation of Vinaya; 

Th< Supernatural Powers of the Aryas; 

Fears of what mam happen ; 

The Song of the ll> runt .• 

The Dialogue on the Hermit's Life; 

The Questioning of UpaJtishya; and 

TJte Address to Rdhula^ beginning with the 

Subject of Falsehood* — 
spoken by the Venerable Buddha — these, Reverend 
Sirs, I desire that many monks and nuns should 
frequently hear and meditate ; and that likewise the 
laity, male and female, Bhould do the same, 

For this reason, Reverend Sirs, 1 cans.- this to be 
written, so that people may know my wishes.' 

' Prof. Hardy^ interpretation. 

- This text occurs in both the Mahdvyutpatti and the 
Angttttam NikAya oi the Pali Canon. 

3 Nob. 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7 hare been identified in the Nikftya 
portion of the Pali Canon. (Rhys Davids, J. J!. A. S., 1898, 
p. 639; Dialogues oj the Buddha^ p. xiii.) M. Senart has 
printed the text of No. 7. and M. Sylvain Levi has translated 
a Chinese version of the same (J. As., 1896, Mai-Jnin). No. 3 
has beon translated into English (J. Pali Text Soc., 1896). It 
would be interesting to have all the five identified treatises 
brought together and translated as furnishing a compendium 
of the ethical teaching favoured by Asoka. 



(Abbreviations — D., Dhauli; Gr., Griraar; J.,Jaugada; K.,Kalsi; 
M., Mansahra ; Sh., Shahbazgarhi.) 



' This pious edict has been written by command of 
His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King. 

Here [in the capital] no animal may be slaughtered 
for sacrifice, nor may the holiday- feast be held, 
because His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King 
sees much offence in the holiday-feast, although in 
certain places holiday-feasts are excellent in the sight 
of His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King 1 . 

1 'Here.' Compare Rock Edict V, where 'at Pataliputra' 
of Gr. corresponds with 'here 1 of the other texts. The word 
samdjo (G-.), as M. Senart points out, is in the singular when it 
occurs first. I am now of opinion that the prohibition refers to 
the samdjo at the capital, contrasted with certain other merry- 
makings which might be considered legitimate. Probably 
a riotous festival once a year had been customary at Pataliputra, 
which Asoka determined to suppress as scandalous. The word 
' offence ' renders dosam. ' Excellent ' is sddhumatd (G.), 
srestamati (Sh.). The meaning of samdjo is best elucidated 
by Rhys Davids, who thus comments on the Pali form of the 
word, samajjo. 'In the Sigdlovdda there are said to be six 
dangers in such a samajjo ; to wit, dancing, singing, music, 
recitations, conjuring tricks, and acrobatic shows, and in the 
Vinaya passages we learn that at a samajjo not only amuse- 
ments, but also food was provided; that high officials were 
invited, and had special seats; and that it took place at the top 
of a hill. This last detail of "high places" (that is, sacred 
places) points to a religious motive as indulging the whole 
procedure. ... Later, the word means simply "fair," as in 
Jdtaka hi. 541. .. but "fair" is nevertheless a very inacle- 

156 A SDK A 

Formerly, in the kitchen of J lis Sacred and Gracious 

Majesty the King eacli day many hundred thousands 
of living creatures were slaughtered to make curries '. 
But now. when this pious edict is being written, only 
three living creatures are slaughtered [daily] for 
curry, to wit, two peacocks and one antelope — the 
antelope, however, not invariably. Even those three 
living creatures henceforth shall not be slaughtered.' 



'Everywhere in the dominions of His Sacred and 
Gracious Majesty the King, as well as among his 
neighboursj Mich as the Cholas 2 , Pandyas , fche 
Satiyaputra ', the Keralaputra*, as far as Cey- 

quate rendering' [Dialogue* <>/ th Buddha, p. 8 note. [899). 
Mr. D. EL Bhandarkar renders ' convivial gathering, 1 and quotes 
authority to ihow thai .1 eatndja was a 'public feast' where 
in. sad wine were copiously served. Ekachd=ekatya i 'in 
certain places.' The prohibition was specially directed against 
the slaughter necessary to provide the meat consumed. Else- 
where, 1 tamudga without such an Accessory might be lawful. 

1 K. omit- • hundred*' 

- The Chola or Choda kingdom on the southeastern <ide of 
the peninsula, the ' Coromandel (Cho^amao^ala) coast,' with 
it- capital at Qraiyur, near Trichinopoly. 

The most southerly Tamil kingdom, roughly corresponding 
with the Madura and Tinnevelly Districts. The moti ;incient 
capital was Korkai at the mouth of the Tamraparni river, but 
Madura became the capital at an early date. 

4 The Satiyaputra. toil, king, not mentioned elsewhere. A 
probable conjecture identifies his territory with the Tuluva 
country, of which Mangalore is the centre, and in which the 
Tulu language is spoken. This region seems usually to have 
been included in Kerala. 

"' The Keralaputra, acil. king, the ruler of Kerala, or Malabar, 


Ion l , Autiochos the Greek (Yona) king 2 , or the kings 
bordering on the said Antiochos :>> — everywhere has 
His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King made 
curative arrangements of two kinds — curative arrange- 
ments for men and curative arrangements for beasts 4 . 
Medicinal herbs also, wholesome for men and whole- 
some for beasts, wherever they were Jacking, every- 
where have been both imported and planted. Roots, 
too, and fruits, wherever they were lacking, have 
been both imported and planted. 

On the roads both wells have been caused to be 
dug and trees caused to be planted for the enjoyment 
of man and beast 5 .' 



{ Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the 
King: — When I had been consecrated twelve years 
I issued this command : — 

separated from Tuluva (? = Satiyaputra) by the Chandragiri 
river, and extending to Cape Comorin; also known as the 
Chera kingdom. The most ancient capital was Vanji, Vanchi, 
or Karur (Tiru-Karur), about 28 miles ENE. of Cochin. The 
traditional three Tamil kingdoms were the Choja, Pandya, and 
Kerala or Chera. Asoka alone adds a fourth, Satiyaputra. 
The Chojas and Pandyas are mentioned again in Rock Edict 
XIII. The form Ketalaputo, a curious variant, in G. 

1 Ceylon, Tambapamni. The chronicles of the island have 
much to say concerning the intercourse between King 
Devanampiya Tissa and Asoka. 

2 Antiochos Theos, King of Syria and Western Asia (b.c. 
261-246), grandson of Seleukos Nikator. 

3 These kings ' bordering on ' (samipam, G., samamta, Sh. &c.) 
Antiochos are named in Rock Edict XIII. 

4 ' Curative arrangements ' (chikichha), not ' hospitals,' 
although hospitals must have been included. 

5 Further details are given in Pillar Edict VII, sec. 5. 

758 ASOKA 

Everywhere in my dominions the subordinate 

officials, and the Commissioner, and the District 
Officer, every five years must proceed on circuit 1 , 
as well for their other business, as for this spec'uil 
purpose, namely, to give instruction in the Law of 
Piety, to wit — M A meritorious thing is the hearkening 
to father and mother - ; a meritorious thing is liberality 
to friends, acquaintances, relatives, Brahmans, and 
ascetics ; a meritorious thing is abstention from the 
slaughter of living creatures ; a meritorious thing is 
small expense and small accumulation.' 1 

Let the monastic communities also appoint officials 
for the reckoning, with regard to both the principle 
and specific instructions V 

1 }',//,/ = ' gabordinate official*,' understood rightly for the 

first tine- by Mr. F. W. Thomas. The word is frequently used 
in this sense in Chanakya's ArfhaMatiu, and recurs several 
times in the Edicts, where it hai been misunderstood. The 
dMaihmayutA (Bock Edict V) were yut& specially appointed for 
the service of the dhafkma under the dhamma wmMm&tA. 
' Commissioner* = Pi'iji'ik< < Ski-, mjjiika), a high official 'set over 
hundreds of thousands of souls' (Pillar Edict IV). 'District 
Officer ' = Priii/ psi/,-1- (G.). ' Circuit '^onusaihy&na, not 'general 

2 ' Meritorious' = sihlhn ; perhaps 'excellent may he a better 

3 Here too Mr. Thomas first seized the correct meaning, hut 
he did not explain the technical sense of pari&d (G.j, Bkr. 
parishad, which means the five constituent elements of 
a monastic body, namely, monks (bhikshus), nuns (bhikshunte), 
female pupils {iiksham&u&s), male novices (xramaneras), female 
novices (sramavcrfs). But the parishad* sometimes are reckoned 
as seven, including the male and female lay disciples (updaakas 
and updstkds) ; and at other times as only four, namely, monks 
and nuns, with male and female lay disciples. .Here, as 
the orders refer to monastic expenditure, the lay disciples 
probably are not included. (See Takakusu, transl. of Using, 




' For a long time past, even for many hundred 
years, have increased the (sacrificial) slaughter of 
liviug creatures, the killing of animate beings 1 9 un- 
seemly behaviour to relatives, and unseemly behaviour 
to Brahmans and ascetics. 

But now, by reason of His Sacred Majesty the 
King's practice of piety, the reverberation of the war- 
drums — or rather, the reverberation of the Law of 
Piety — is heard, bringing with it the display to the 
people of processional cars, elephants, illuminations, 
and other heavenly spectacles 2 . 

Record of Buddhist Practices, pp. 86, 96, 205.) ' With regard to, 
&c.'=hetuto cha vyamjanato cha, might be rendered 'with 
regard to both the objects and the accounts,' i.e. by checking 
the stores and auditing the accounts. The orders about 
' small accumulation ' are explained by Itsing's remark that ' it 
is unseemly for a monastery to have great wealth, granaries 
full of rotting corn, &c.' (op. cit., p. 194). 

1 Arambho, '(sacrificial) slaughter'; vihimsd, 'killing' 
(Thomas), ' cruel treatment ' (Biihler). 

2 The drum of piety takes the place of the kettle-drum 
(bheri). Biihler quotes the expression dhammabheri from the 
Jdtakas. Religious processions took the place of military 
pageants. Fa-hien's description of a grand Buddhist pro- 
cession at Pataliputra, although centuries later in date, is the 
best commentary. ' Every year,' he says, ' on the eighth day of 
the second month they celebrate a procession of images. They 
make a four-wheeled car, and on it erect a structure of five 
storeys by means of bamboos tied together. . . . They make 
figures of devas, with gold, silver, and lapis lazuli grandly 
blended, and having silken streamers and canopies hung out 
over them. On the four sides are niches, with a Buddha seated 
in each, and a Bodhisattva standing in attendance on him. 
There may be twenty cars, all grand and imposing, but each 

t6o ASOKA 

As for many hundred years before has not happened, 
now at this present, by reason of His Sacred Majesty 
the Kind's Instruction in the Law of Piety, nave 

increased abstention from the (sacrificial) slaughter 
of living creatures, abstention from the killing of ani- 
mate beings, seemly behaviour to relatives, Beemly 
behaviour to Brahmans and ascetics, hearkening 
to father and mother, and hearkening to elders. 

Thus, and in many other ways, the practice of 
piety lias increased, and His Sacred Majesty the King 
will cause such practice of piety to inc bill more. 

The sons, grandsons, and great-grandsons of His 
Sacred .Majesty the King will promote the increase in 
the practice of such piety until the end of the cycle. 
and abiding in piety and morality, will give instruc- 
tion in the Law of Piety. For this is the best of 
deeds '—even giving instruction in the La"w of Piety 
— and the practice of piety is not for the immoral 
man. In this matter to increase and not to decre 
both are excellent -. 

For this very purpose has this been caused to be 
written, in order that in this matter, men may strive 
for increase and not behold decreai 

one different from - others. On the day mentioned, the 

monk* an<l laity within the bowers all come together; they 
have singer- and skilful musicians; they pay their devotions 
with flowers and incense. The Brahmans come and invito the 

Buddhas to enter the city. These do so in order, and remain 
two nights in it. All through the night they keep lamp- 
burning, have skilful music, and present offerings. This is the 
practice in all the other kingdoms as well' {TrcvtU, eh. xxvii, 
transL Legge). 

1 Compare Rock Edict XI. 

2 ' Excellent ' = sddhu ; ' meritorious ' (Biihler). 

3 ' Behold ' = Inchitayvd (G.), anulochayisu (M.) ; 'qu'ils 
n'en voient point ' (Senart). Biihler renders more freely as 


This has been written by command of His Sacred 
and Gracious Majesty the King after he had been 
consecrated twelve years.' 



* Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the 
King :-*- 

A good deed is a difficult thing. He who is the 
author of a good deed does a difficult thing. Now, 
by me many good deeds have been done 1 . 

Should my sons, grandsons, and my descendants 
after them until the end of the cycle follow in this 
path, they will do well ; but in this matter, he who 
shall omit a part (of his duty) will do ill 2 , because 
sin is an easy thing 3 . 

Now in all the long time past, officers known as 
Censors of the Law of Piety never had existed, where- 
as such Censors were created by me when I had been 
consecrated thirteen years 4 . 

Among people of all denominations 5 they are 

1 See Pillar Edict VII, sec. 5, 8. 

*Desa?h = i a, part (of his duty),' Buhler and Thomas. 
Senart takes it as = sandesam, ' commandment.' 

3 Sukaram= * easy ' (G. and Sh.). K. and Dh. have supaddlaye, 
which Senart renders ' qu'on lutte done contre le mal ' ; but 
Buhler translates ' for sin easily develops.' 

4 DJiamma-mahdmdtd, superior officers charged with the 
supervision of the Law of Piety, as distinguished from the 
ordinary civil mahdmdtd, and vested with the duty of superin- 
tending the Dhamma-yutd, or subordinate officials of the Law of 
Piety, mentioned three times below. The correct interpreta- 
tion of Dhamma-yutd is due to Mr. Thomas. 

5 Pdsamdesu=' denominations,' translated by the shorter 
word ' sects ' in Rock Edict XII, where the term recurs fre- 


1 62 ASOKA 

employed in promoting the establishment of piety, 
the increase of piety, and the welfare and happiness 
of the subordinate officials of the Law of Piety, and of 
the Yavanas, Kambojas, Gfandharas, as well as other 
nations on my borders '. 

Among servants and masters", Brahmans and rich, 
the needy, and the aged, they are employed in 
removing hindrances from the path of the subordinate 
officials of the Law of Piety. 

They are employed in the prevention of wrongful 
imprisonment or chastisement, in removing hindrances, 
and in deliverance, considering cases where a man 
lias a large family, has been smitten by calamity, or 
is advanced in years. 

Here, at Pataliputra ; . and in all the provincial 
towns, they an- everywhere employed in supervising 
the female establishments of my brothers and sisters, 
as well as of other relatives l . 

These Censors are employed everywhere in my 

1 r<mas } oi Ym-(iiias = people of Greek descent, and perhaps 
including other foreign tribes on the north-western frontier; 
Kambojas, a Himalayan nation, Tibetans according to some 
authorities; Gandharas, the people of the Gandhara country, 
including Peshawar and probably Taxila also ; Rashtrikas 
(not in K.) = the inhabitants of -Maharashtra ; Pitenikas (not in 
K.) = the inhabitants of the country about Paithan on the 
Godavari. Compare Rock Edicts II and XIII. 

2 'Servants and masters ' = bhatn-ui-ayt'i<H, with euphonic m 
ilYanke); =' soldiers and warriors,' bhata-manja (Senart) ; 
= ' hired servants,' bhrita-mnya (Biihler). 

3 'At Pataliputra,' G. only. . 

4 'Female establishments' = olodhanesu , better than the 
Muhammadan words ' harem ' or ' zenana.' Compare ' Censors 
of the Women ' in Rock Edict XII. Note the mention of 
Asoka's ' brothers and sisters ' as being alive and objects of his 
care. The functions of the Censors are further explained in 
Pillar Edict VII, sec. 6, 7- 


dominions l among the subordinate officials of the 
Law with whatsoever concerns the Law of Piety, with 
watching over that Law, and with the administration 
of almsgiving. 

For this purpose has this pious edict been written 
that it may long endure, and that my subjects may 
act accordingly V 



' Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the 
King : — For a long time past it has not happened that 
business has been dispatched and that reports have 
been received at all hours. Now by me this arrange- 
ment has been made that at all hours and in all places 
— whether I am dining, or in the ladies' apartments, 
in my bedroom, or in my closet, in my (?) carriage, or 
in the palace gardens — the official Reporters should 
report to me on the people's business, and I am ready 
to do the people's business in all places 3 . 

1 'In my dominions' (K. and Sh.); 'in the whole earth' 

2 ' Subjects' =pajd, which is used in the sense of ' children' 
in the special Kalinga Edicts, ' all men are my children.' 

3 'The official Reporters ' =pativedakd = €7ricrKonoi of Mega- 
sthenes, as quoted by Strabo, xv. 1. 48 ; Frag, xxxii : — ' The 
Overseers, to whom is assigned the duty of watching all that 
goes on, and making reports secretly to the king. Some are 
entrusted with the inspection of the city, and others with that 
of the army. The former employ as their coadjutors the 
courtezans of the city, and the latter the courtezans of the 
camp. The ablest and most trustworthy men are appointed to 
fill these offices' (transl. McCrindle, Megasthenes, p. 85). 
Chanakya devotes Chapters xi and xii of Book I of the 
Arthasdstra to the subject of spies. The courtezans were under 
official supervision (ibid., bk. ii, ch. xxvii). Asoka inherited 

L 2 

164 ASOKA 

And if, perchance, I personally by word of mouth 
command that a gift be made or an order executed, or 
anything urgent is entrusted to the superior officials, 
and in that business a dispute arises or a fraud occurs 
among the monastic community l , I have commanded 
that immediate report must be made to mo at any 
hour and in any place, because I never feel full 
satisfaction in my efforts and dispatch of business. 
For the welfare of all folk is what I must work for — 
and the root of that, again, is in effort and the dispatch 
of business. And whatsoever exertions I make are 
for the end that I may discharge my debt to animate 
beings, and that while I make some happy here, they 
may in the next world gain heaven. 

For this purpose, have I caused this pious edict to 
be written, that it may long endure, and that my sons 
and grandsons 2 may exert themselves for the welfare 
of all folk. That, however, is a difficult thing save by 
the utmost exertion.' 



' His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King desires 
that in all places men of every denomination may 
abide, for they all desire mastery over the senses and 
purity of mind. 

the system of secret reports, but introduced the innovation of 
receiving them at all times and in all places, even the most in- 
convenient. His grandfather, however, used to hear cases even 
while being shampooed (Strabo, xv. 1. 56, transl. McCrindle, 
Megasthenes, p. 72). The exact meaning of the word {vinitaspi) 
conjecturally rendered ' carriage ' is uncertain. 

1 See Rock Edict III. 

2 The translation is from Sh. Dh. and J. have * sons and 
great-grandsons;' K. 'sons and wives,' a remarkable variant; 
but, as Senart observes, consistent with Buddhist notions. 


Man, however, is various in his wishes, and various 
in his likings. 

Some of the denominations will perform the whole, 
others will perform but one part of the commandment. 
Even for a person to whom lavish liberality is im- 
possible, the virtues of mastery over the senses, purity 
of mind, gratitude, and steadfastness are altogether 
indispensable V 



'In times past Their Sacred Majesties 2 used to go 
out on so-called "tours of pleasure 3 ," during which 
hunting and other similar amusements used to be 

His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King, however, 
after he had been consecrated ten years, went forth on 
the road to wisdom 4 . Thus originated the " tours of 

1 For the rendering ' denomination,' see note to Edict V 
(ante, p. 161). Biihler translates * creeds,' and Senart 'sectes,' 
but neither of those terms quite suits the Indian facts, and 
although ' denomination ' is clumsy, I cannot think of anything 
better. The last clause is in accordance with the view of 
Mr. Thomas, who renders bddham as ' altogether ' and niche 
( = nityam) as 'permanent,' or 'indispensable,' in contradis- 
tinction to naimittikam, ' occasional.' Biihler translated 
'laudable in a lowly man,' which certainly seems to be 
erroneous. Senart takes niche (nityam) as 'toujours' and 
bddham as ' excellent.' Compare Rock Edict XII. 

2 Devdnam-piyd and similar forms in K., &c. ; rdjdno, 'kings,' 

3 ' So-called ' is omitted from G. The word rendered ' tours 
of pleasure ' (vihdra-ydtra) occurs in the Arthasdstra in the form 
ydtra-vihdra (Thomas). 

4 ' Le terme de Sambodhi rattache indiscutablement Piyadasi 
au buddhisme ' (Senart, ii. 264). The technical meaning of the 

166 ASOKA 

piety" (dharnia), wherein are practised the visiting 
of ascetics and Brahraans, with liberality to them, the 
visiting of elders, with largess of gold, the visiting of 
the people of the country, with instruction in the Law 
of Piety and discussion of the Law of Piety K 

Consequently, since that time these are the pleasures 
of His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King in 
exchange for those of the past.' 


(KM / 

'Tims Baith His Sacrvd and Gracious Majesty Un- 

term i- betl explained by Prof. Ethyl Davids [DialoffUM of the 
Buddha, p. n,o ; Buddhism 11899). P« IQ S)- The 'road' on 
whicb Asoka boI out tor ' wisdom ' {sambodhi) i.s the 'eightfold 
path' Leading to the >t a t <■ of an Arahat, or perfected saint. 
The person starting on that path is described as mtnbodtii- 
pardifano. Tin' steps in the path arc H) right views, (2) right 
feelings, 131 right words. (4) right brhavioor. (5) right mode of 
livelihood, 16) right exertion, (7) right memory, and (8) right 
meditation with tranquillity. Sambodhi i- analysed into seven 
constituent parts, namely, self-possession, investigation into 
the truth, energy, calm, joy, concentration, and magnanimity. 
Asoka definitely states in effect that in his eleventh ' regnal 
year' (b.c. 359) he deliberately became wmbodhi-pariUfmno, a 
person aiming at the wisdom of the perfected saint. 

1 The pilgrimage of B.C. 249 recorded on the Rummindei and 
Nigliva Pillars was such a 'pious tour.' Many Indian kings, 
for example, Harsha and Akbar, have taken great delight in 
disputations on religion. 

- The various recensions of this edict differ more widely than 
usual, in substance as well as in language. The K., It., and 
Sh. texts form one group ; the G.. Dh.. and J. form another. 
The K. version is practically perfect. 


People perform various ceremonies 011 occasions of 
sickness, the weddings of sons, the weddings of 
daughters, the birth of children, and departure on 
journeys. On these and other similar occasions 
people perform ceremonies. But at such times the 
womankind perform many, manifold, trivial, and 
worthless ceremonies 1 . 

Ceremonies certainly have to be performed, al- 
though that sort bears little fruit. This sort, however 
— the ceremonial of piety — bears great fruit 2 . In it 
are included proper treatment of slaves and servants, 
honour to teachers, gentleness towards living creatures, 
and liberality towards ascetics and Brahmans. These 
things, and others of the same kind, are called the 
ceremonial of piety. 

Therefore ought a father, son, brother, master, friend, 
or comrade, nay, even a neighbour, to say, " This is 
meritorious, this is the ceremonial to be performed 
until the attainment of the desired end." How is that 
done ? for the ceremonial of this world is of doubtful 
efficacy ; perchance it may accomplish the desired end, 
perchance, on the other hand, it may not, and so it 
remains of no effect in this world. 

The ceremonia] of piety, on the contrary, is not 
temporal ; for even if it fails to attain the desired end 
in this world, it certainly begets endless merit in the 
other world. If it happens to attain the desired end 
in this world, then a gain of two kinds is assured, 
namely, in this world the desired end, and in the other 
world the begetting of endless merit through the afore- 
said ceremonial of piety V 

1 ' Ceremonies ' or ' ceremonial,' mamgalam ; ' auspicious rites' 
(Biihler) ; 'pratiques' (Senart). In the Jdtakas, as M. Senart 
tells me, the term is applied to the cult of the Hindu deities. 

2 'Great fruit,' mahclpliale, is contrasted with 'little fruit' 
(apa (alpa-) phale). 

3 For the passage beginning ' How is that done ? ' and ex- 
tending to the end, G,, Dh., and J. substitute the following : — 

1 68 ASOKA 



' His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King does 
not believe that glory or renown brings much profit 
uuless in both the present and the future my people ] 
obediently hearken to the Law of Piety and conform 
to its precepts. For that purpose only does His 
Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King desire glory 
or renown. 

Whatsoever exertions His Sacred and Gracious 
Majesty the Kinir makes, all are for the sake of the 
life hereafter, so that every one may bo freed from 
peril, and that peril is vice'-. 

Difficult, verily, it is to attain such freedom. 
whether by people of low or of high degree, save by the 
utmost exertion, giving up all other aims :; . That, 
however, for him of high degree is difficult.' 

'And it has been said "Almsgiving (or 'liberality') is cieri- 

torioii8 (or 'excellent, 1 Bddhu)." But there i- no such gift >r 
favour u the gift of piety, the favour of piety. Therefor.' 
should a friend [mitrrna), Lover {8tihadayena) % relative, or com- 
rade advise on such and such an occasion, " This is to be done, 
this is meritorious [sddhu), by this it is possible for you to gain 
heaven." And what is better worth doing than that by which 
heaven is gained?' In that form the passage anticipates 
Edict XI. My rendering is not quite the same as M. Senart's. 
Btthler translated the Sh. text. 

1 'My people,' me jano, G. 

2 ' Freed from peril,' aparixrave, Sh. G.. &c, have aptaparisrace, 
where a pa probably represents alpa, ' freed from peril so far as 
possible.' ' Vice,' apumnam, the contrary of puthnam, 'merit,' 
or ' virtue.' Senart translates parisrave by tcueil, lit. ' a hidden 

3 This seems to be the correct sense of taoam patichajitpd, 6., 
and the corresponding words in other texts (Thomas). 




' Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the 

There is no such almsgiving as is the almsgiving of 
the Law of Piety — friendship in piety, the liberality 
in piety, kinship in piety 2 . Herein does it consist — 
in proper treatment of slaves and servants, hearkening 

1 Compare generally Edict IX, and especially the G-., Dh., and 
J. text of the latter part of that document. 

2 Dhammadanam, 'the almsgiving of the Law of Piety,' 
means, as M. Senart puts it, ' l'aumone des bons conseils et de 
l'enseignement religieux,' good advice and teaching in the 
spirit of the Law. The three following clauses are expansions 
of the main idea, and explain that such liberal communication 
of the truth will produce between teacher and taught relations 
of friendship, kinship (parents, Senart), and feelings such 
as arise between a benefactor and his beneficiary. Mr. Thomas 
prefers ' association' to ' kinship ' as the rendering ofsambandho. 

Compare the account of Nissanka Malla, King of Ceylon, 
(a.d. 1187-96) :— ' This pious monarch enjoyed the bliss of 
almsgiving, as he sat granting largess with great happiness, 
hearing many joyous shouts of "s&dhu" and the like, and 
imparting the gift of piety (duna-dharmma), which is the 
noblest of all gifts ' (Inscription on rock near the ruins of one 
of the alms-houses (dana-sala) erected by the king at Polon- 
naruwa, in Arch. S. Rep. Ceylon, for 1902 (lxvii of 1907), p. 11). 
Nissanka Malla bestowed his bounty, like Asoka, on Buddhists 
and Brahmans, natives and foreigners. Cromwell's first extant 
letter (dated St. Ives, Jan. 11, 1635) supplies a curiously exact 
parallel : — ' Building of hospitals provides for men's bodies ; 
to build material temples is judged a work of piety ; but they 
that procure spiritual food, they that build up spiritual 
temples, they are the men truly charitable, truly pious ' 

170 ASOKA 

to lather and mother, giving to friends, comrades, 
relations, ascetics, and Brahmans, and sparing of 
living creatures. Therefore a father, son, brother, 
master 1 , friend, comrade, nay, even a neighbour, ought 
to say, "This is meritorious, this ought to be done." 

He who acts thus both gains this world and in the 
other world begets infinite merit 8 , by means of this 
very almsgiving of piety. 1 


'His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King does 
reverence to men of all sects, w T hether ascetics or house- 
holders, by gifts and various forms of reverence :j . 

His Sacred Majesty, however, cares not so much for 
gifts or external reverence as that there should be a 
growth of the essence of the matter in all sects. The 
growth of the essence of the matter assumes various 
forms, but the root of it is restraint of speech, to wit, 
a man must not do reverence to his own sect or dis- 
parage that of another man without reason. Depre- 
ciation should be for specific reasons only, because the 
sects of other people all deserve reverence for one 
reason or another 1 . 

By thus acting, a man exalts his own sect, and at 
the same time does service to the sects of other people. 
By acting contrariwise, a man hurts his own sect, 

1 (t. omits 'master." • 'Merit. 1 pumHam. 

3 ' Sects,' 2»'isat)i(hi. translated by the longer word 'denomina- 
tion' in Rock Edict VII 'Gifts, 1 ddnaih, i.e. 'almsgiving," 
as in preceding edict. ' Reverence,' piijo. Compare Rock 
Edict IX, and Pillar Edicts VI, VII, sec. 7. 

4 ' Without reason." aprakaranasi. ' For specific reason only.' 
Uui tasi ptakarane. ' For one reason or another,' tena tenu 
prakaranena or akarena. ' Reason,' is used in the sense of ' par- 
ticular occasion ' or 'justification ' [legitime occasion, Senartj. 


and does disservice to the sects of other people. For 
he who does reverence to his own sect while dis- 
paraging the sects of others wholly from attachment 
to his own, with intent to enhance the splendour of 
his own sect, in reality by such conduct inflicts the 
severest injury on his own sect. 

Concord, therefore, is meritorious, to wit, hearken- 
ing and hearkening willingly to the Law of Piety as 
accepted by other people 1 . For this is the desire of 
His Sacred Majesty that all sects should hear much 
teaching and hold sound doctrine. 

Wherefore the adherents of all sects, whatever they 
may be, must be informed that His Sacred Majesty 
cares not so much for gifts or external reverence as 
that there should be growth in the essence of the 
matter and respect for all sects. 

For this very purpose are employed the Censors of 
the Law of Piety, the Censors of the Women, the (?) 
Inspectors, and other official bodies a . And this is the 
fruit thereof — the growth of one's own sect, and the 
enhancement of the splendour of the Law of Piety.' 

1 ' Qu'ils ecoutent et aiment a ecouter ' (Senart). Compare: 
1 Let every man, so far as in him lieth, help the reading of the 
scriptures, whether those of his own church or those of another ' 
(Pratapa Simha, Bhakta-kalpadruma (1866), transl. Grierson 
in J. E. A. S., 1908, p. 359). So Miss Noble correctly re- 
presents the Indian view when she writes : — ' Every one, while 
recognizing this perfect sympathy of various faiths for one 
another, should know how to choose one among them for his 
own, and persist in it, till by its means he has reached a point 
where the formulae of sects are meaningless to him ' (TJie Web 
of Indian Life, p. 224). 

2 The Censors of the Women, mentioned specifically in this 
document only, are alluded to in Pillar Edict VII, sec. 7. The 
word vrachabhumika is of uncertain meaning, and the rendering 
' Inspectors ' is only a guess. ' Official bodies,' niMt/d, a word 
used several times in the edicts, with slightly varying significa- 
tions, but always implying a class, body, or community. 

172 AS0K.1 

(8hdhbdzgarki Teat) ■ 


The Kalingas were conquered by His Sacred and 
Gracious Majesty the King when he had been conse- 
crated eight years -. ( >nu bundled and fifty thousand 
persons were thence carried away captive, one hun- 
dred thousand were there slain, and many times that 
number perished. 

Directly after the annexation of the Kalingas, 
began Bis Sacred Majesty's zealous protection of the 
Law of Piety, his love of that Law, and his giving 
instruction in that Law (dharma). Thus arose His 
Sacred Majesty's remorse for having conquered the 
Kalingas, because the conquest of a country previously 
unoonquered involves the slaughter, death, and carry- 
ing away captive of the people That is a matter of 
profound sorrow and regret to His Sacred Majesty; 

There is. however, another reason for His Sacred 
Majesty feeling still more regret, inasmuch as in such 
a country dwell Brahmans or ascetics, or men of 
various denomination.-, or householders, upon whom 
is laid this duty of hearkening to superiors, hearken- 
ing to father and mother, hearkening to teachers, and 
proper treatment of friends, acquaintances, comrades, 
relatives, slaves, and servants, with fidelity of attach- 
ment. To such people in such a country befalls 
violence, or slaughter, or separation from their loved 
ones. Or misfortune befalls the friends, acquaintances, 
comrades, and relatives of those who are themselves 

1 The Sh. text, which i- practically perfect, was twice 
translated by Biihler I Ej>. I ml., vols, i and ii). 

2 'The Kalingas.' or the Three Kalingas, or Kalinga, the 
province on the coast of the Bay of Bengal between the 
Mahanadi and the Grod&vari. For historical inferences, Bee 
ritte, Chapter 1. 


well protected, while their affection is undiminished. 
Thus for them also that is a mode of violence. All 
these several happenings to men are matter of regret 
to His Sacred Majesty 1 ; because it is never the case 
that people have not faith in some one denomination 
or other 2 . 

Thus of all the people who were then slain, done to 
death, or carried away captive in the Kalingas, if the 
hundredth or the thousandth part were to suffer the 
same fate, it would now be matter of regret to His 
Sacred Majesty. Moreover, should any one do him 
wrong, that too must be borne with by His Sacred 
Majesty, if it can possibly be borne with 3 . Even 
upon the forest folk in his dominions His Sacred 
Majesty looks kindly and he seeks their conversion, 
for (if he did not) repentance would come upon His 
Sacred Majesty 4 . They are bidden to turn from evil 
ways that they be not chastised. For His Sacred 
Majesty desires that all animate beings should have 
security, self-control, peace of mind, and joyousness 5 . 

And this is the chiefest conquest in the opinion of 

1 'All these &c.,' equivalent to Biihler's 'all this falls sever- 
ally on men.' Mr. Thomas prefers ' a share of this falls upon 
all men.'' 

2 So Franke : — ' "Es kommt nicht vor, dass die Leute nicht 
irgend einer Sekte anhangen," d. h. "irgend eine Form der 
religiosen Gesinnung giebt es in jedem Lande.'" Biihler's 
version is not quite accurate. 

3 This remarkable sentiment recurs in the Kalinga Borderers' 
Edict. Rock Edict XIII was not published in Kalinga. 

4 The last clause is as interpreted by Mr. Thomas. 

5 'Joyousness,' rabhasiye (Sh.), mddavam (6.). 'The fourth 
point is the joyousness of the Arahat [Buddhist perfected 
saint], springing more especially from the emancipation of 
heart to which he has attained, and on which so much stress 
is laid' (Rhys Davids, American Lectures, p. 183). This laying 
stress on joyousness is a specially Buddhist doctrine. 

174 ASOKA 

His Sacred Majesty- the conquest by the Law oi 
Piety — and this, again, has been won by His Saored 
Majesty both in his own dominions and in all the 
neighbouring realms as far as six hundred leagues — 
where the Greek (Yona) King named Antiochos 
dwells \ and north of that Antiochos to where dwell 
the four (4) kings severally named Ptolemy, Antigo- 
nos, Magas, and Alexander a ; and in the south the 
(realms of the) Cholas and Pandyafl ! , with Ceylon 
likewise 4 — and here too. in the King's dominions, 
among tin- Ynnas, and Kambojas*, among the Nabha- 
pamtis of Nabhaka ' . among the Bhojas and Pitinikas 7 , 

1 Antioohoi TheOfl [ace c. B.C. 261 1, King of Syria and 

Western Asia, grandson of Seleukos Nikator, the opponent and 
afterwards the ally of Asoka's grandfather, Chandragnpta. 

8 Ptolemy Phfladelphoe of Egypi (B.O. 285-247); Antigonos 
Gonatas of Macedonia ib.c. 278 or 277-239) ; Magas, of Cyrene 
to the west of Egypt, half-brother of Ptolemy Philadelphos, 
died b.c. 258: Alexander of Epirm (b.o. 272-V258), opponent 
of Antigonos Gonatas. The numeral 4 is in the original. 

3 See Rock Edict II. The Choja kingdom (Cho{chm(Mtdalam f 
'Coromandel coast') had its capital at Uraiyfir near Tiichin- 
opoly. The Paixlya kingdom w.i- roughly equivalent to the 
Madura and Tinnevelly Districts. Its most ancient capital 
was the port of Korkai. This Edict does not mention the 
Kerala and Satiyapntra kingdoms referred to in Edict II. 

4 "Ceylon,' Taihbapaihni. or Tamraparni. the Taprobane 
of Milton. 

1 ' Yonas' = Yavanas -=Ionians, people of Greek descent, 
and possibly other foreign tribes on the north-western frontier. 
In later times the term had a vague meaning, like the modern 
wQ&yatt. Kambojas, a northern Himalayan nation, believed 
by some to be the Tibetans. 

6 Ndbhake-Ndbhopamtisku of K., not identified. 

7 'Bhojas,* probably those of Ilichpur in Barar (see Collin>, 
Geogr. Data of the Bayhuvamsa, Sec. (Leipzig, 1907), p. 37). 
'Pitinikas,' or Pitenikas, the people of Paithan on the upper 
Godavari. Linguistic laws forbid the supposed derivation from 


among the Andhras and Pulindas l —everywhere men 
follow His Sacred Majesty's instruction in the Law 
of Piety. Even where the envoys of His Sacred 
Majesty do not penetrate, there too men hearing His 
Sacred Majesty's ordinance based on the Law of 
Piety and his instruction in that Law, practise and 
will practise the Law 2 . 

And, again, the conquest thereby won everywhere 
is everywhere a conquest full of delight. Delight is 
found in the conquests made by the Law. That 
delight, however, is only a small matter. His Sacred 
Majesty regards as bearing much fruit only that 
which concerns the other world. 

And for this purpose has this pious edict been 
written in order that my sons and grandsons, who 
may be, should not regard it as their duty to conquer 
a new conquest. If, perchance, they become engaged 
in a conquest by arms 3 , they should take pleasure in 
patience and gentleness, and regard as (the only true) 
conquest the conquest won by piety. That avails for 
both this world and the next. Let all joy be in effort, 
because that avails for both this world and the next V 

Skr. Pratishthdna (Paithdna). Biihler accordingly proposed a 
derivation from Skr. Pretdyanika or Prditdyanika. But 
Michelson objects and derives the name from Skr. pitri + ayana, 
through an assumed form pditraianika (Indogerm. Forsch., 
Band xxiv (1909), p. 52). 

1 'Andhras,' a powerful nation mentioned by Pliny, in the 
basins of the Godavari and Krishna (Kristna). After Asoka's 
death they established a great kingdom stretching across India 
(see Rapson, Catal. Coins, B. M., Andhras, &c, 1908). 'Pu- 
lindas,' a term used vaguely for wild hill-tribes, here apparently 
referring to those dwelling in the Vindhya and Satpura hills. 

2 Compare Rock Edict II, and the Ceylonese accounts of the 
missions (ante, p. 43). 

3 Literally ' by arrows ' (sara). 

4 Compare note on ' joyousness ' above, p. 173. Here the 
word is nirati. 

176 AS OK A 


{Qimdr Text) 

' This set of odictB of the Law of Piety has been 
written by command of His Sacred and Gracious 
Majesty the King in a form sometimes condensed, 
sometimes of medium length, and sometimes expanded ; 
because everything is not suitable in every place, for 
my dominions are extensive, and much has been 
written and much I shall cause to be written. 

Certain phrases have been uttered again and again 
by reason of the honeyed sweetness of such and such 
a topic, in the hope that the people may act Dp to 
them l . 

It may be that something has been written incom- 
pletely by reason of mutilation of the order, or 
misunderstanding of the sense, or a blunder of the 

1 No reader of the Asoka inscription- can fail to recognize 
the accuracy of this description of them by their author. 
The existing records are but a part of those originally published, 
but even what is still accessible amply justifies the description 
in every particular. 

- In this passage it leemi best to translate desam as 'order' 
= sandesa)h, but it may be rendered as 'a part,' or 'passage.' 
The inscriptions were drafted and incised with such scrupulous 
care that clerical errors or engravers' blunders very rarely 
occur, and there is hardly any room for ingenious emenda- 
tions of the text. Most of the errors assumed to exist by the 
earlier interpreters were imaginary and due to faulty copies. 


The Kalinga Edicts 1 

(Jaugada Text 2 ) 

1 Thus saith His Sacred Majesty : — 

At Samapa the high officers are to be addressed in 
the King's words as follows 3 : — 

Whatsoever my views are I desire them to be acted 
on in practice and carried into effect by certain 
means 4 . And in my opinion the chief means for 
attaining this purpose are my instructions to you. 

" All men are my children 5 " ; and just as I desire 
for my children that they may enjoy every kind of 

1 These two edicts, published in two nearly identical re- 
censions at Dhauli in the Puri District, Orissa, and Jaugada in 
the G-anjam District, Madras, take the place of Edicts XI-XIII 
of the ordinary series, which were not considered suitable for 
the newly annexed province. These documents are often cited 
as the Separate or Detached Edicts. The Borderers' Edict was 
engraved before that concerned with the Provincials 1 , which 
Prinsep called No. I. 

2 The Dhauli text, which is less complete, is addressed to 
the Prince and high officers at Tosali, a town evidently near 
Dhauli. The ancient ruins among which the Jaugada record 
stands presumably represent the town of Samapa. 

3 Note the form of address. These Edicts try to preserve 
numerous quotations from the actual words of the sovereign, 
and consequently present exceptional difficulties in translation. 

4 ' My views are,' literally ' I see.' 

5 'All men are my children'; an echo of the saying, 'All 
beings are my children,' ascribed to Buddha, and found in both 
the Lotus de la bonne Loi, p. 89, and the Dharma-sahyraha, II, 
as quoted by Kern, Manual of Indian Buddhism, p. 61. The 
policy of both edicts rests upon this aphorism. 

178 ASOKA 

prosperity and happiness in both this world and the 
next, so also I desire the same for all men. 

If you ask, " With regard to the unsubdued 
borderers what is the King's command to us ? " or 
11 What truth it is that I desire the borderers to 
grasp 1 " — the answer is that the King desires that 
11 they should not be afraid of me, that they should 
trust me, and should receive from me happiness, not 
sorrow." Moreover, they should grasp the truth that 
" the King will bear patiently with us, so far as it is 
possible to bear with us/' and that " for my sake they 
should follow the Law of Piety and so gain both this 
world and the next." 

And for this purpose I give you instructions. In 
this way 1 am discharged of my debt when I have 
instructed you and intimated my will, my inflexible 
resolve and promise. 

Now you, acting accordingly, must do your work, 
and most make these people trust me and grasp the 
truth that — "The King is to us even as a father; he 
loves as even as he loves himself; we are to the 
King even as his children." 

By instructing you and intimating my will, my 
inflexible resolve and promise, 1 shall have (trained) 
local officials for this business '. because you are in 
a position to make these people trust me and to 
ensure their prosperity and happiness in both this 
world and the next, and by so doing you can both 
win heaven and discharge your debt to me. And for 
this purpose has this edict been here inscribed in 
order that the officers may strive without ceasing to 
secure the trust of these borderers, and set them 
moving on the path of piety. 

1 ' I shall have (trained) local officials,' desd ayutike hosami ; 
nearly equivalent to Buhler's ' superintendents in all countries. 1 
Yukta and ayukta in the edicts and the Atihasdstra mean 
'subordinate official.' M. Senart's rendering, 'executeurs actife 
de mes ordres ' is hardly defensible now. 


And this edict must be recited at the beginning of 
each season of four months, on the Tishya day, and, 
as occasion offers, it may be recited on a Tishya day 
in the intervals, even to a single hearer 1 . Endeavour 
by acting thus to fulfil my behests.' 


(Dhauli Text) 

' By command of His Sacred Majesty : — 

At Tosali the high officers in charge of the town are 
to be addressed as follows : — 

Whatsoever my views are I desire them to be acted 
on in practice and carried into effect by certain 
means. And in my opinion the chief means for 
attaining this purpose are my instructions to you, 
because you have been set over many thousands of 
living beings that you may gain the affection of good 

" All men are my children," and just as I desire for 
my children that they enjoy every kind of prosperity 
and happiness in both this world and the next, so also 
I desire the same for all men. 

You, however, do not grasp this truth to its full 
extent. Some individual, perchance, pays heed, but 

1 See notes on Pillar Edict V. 

2 Edict I deals with the wild border tribes of Orissa, such as 
still inhabit the Tributary States. This document, addressed to 
the high officers at Tosali and Saruapa (see notes on Borderers' 
Edict), charges thenito see that justice is done to the townsmen. 
An appendix is of general application and intimates that the 
principle of policy enunciated will be enforced throughout the 
empire by officers on tour. For official tours or circuits 
(anusamydna) see Rock Edict III. 

M '2, 

i8o ASOKA 

to a part only, not the whole. See then to this, for 
the principle ia well established '. 

Again, it happens that some individual incurs 
imprisonment or other ill-usage, and when he ends in 
imprisonment without due cause, many other people 
are deeply grieved. In such a case you must desire 
to do justice. 

However, with certain natural dispositions, success 
is impossible, to wit. envy, lack of perseverance, harsh- 
ness, impatience, want of application, laziness, indo- 
lence. You must desire that such dispositions be not 
yours. The root of the whole matter lies in per- 
severance and patience in applying the principle. 
The indolent man cannot rouse himself to move, but 
one must needs move, advance, go on. 

In the same way you must see to your duty, and be 
told to remember : — " See to my commands ; such and 
Bucb are the instructions of His Sacred .Majesty." 
Fulfilment of these bean great fruit, non-fulfilment 
brings great calamity. By those who fail neither 
heaven nor the royal favour can be won. Ill per- 
formance of this duty can never gain my regard, 
whereas in fulfilling my instructions you will win 
heaven, and also pay your debt to me '-. 

This edict must be recited every Tishya con- 
stellation day, and at intervals, on fit occasion, it 
may be recited even to a single hearer' 5 . By such 
action you must endeavour to fulfil my intentions. 

For this purpose has this edict been here inscribed 

1 ' Fur the principle is well established,' surihita i>i niti. 
The words will hardly bear M. Senart's rendering ' que la regie 
de conduite soit bien etablie.' The principle referred to, I 
think, is the aphorism ' all men are my children,.' on which the 
imperial policy rested. 

2 The correct interpretation is due to Prof. Otto Franke 
of Konigsberg. 

3 That is to say, once a month, on the day when the moon i? 
supposed to be in the constellation Tishya. 


in order that the administrators of the town may 
strive without ceasing to prevent the imprisonment 
or ill-usage of the townsmen without due cause \ 

And for this purpose, in accordance with the Law 
of Piety, I shall send forth on circuit every five years 
such officers as are of mild and temperate disposition, 
regardful of the sanctity of life, who knowing this 
purpose will act in accordance with my instructions 2 . 

From Ujjain the Prince will send forth people of 
a similar class for the same purpose, but will not over- 
pass the limit of three years. 

The same order applies to Taxila 3 . When the 
officers aforesaid proceed on circuit, then, without 
neglecting their own ordinary business, they will 
attend to this matter also, and act in accordance with 
the King's instructions.' 

1 'Administrators,' vkjohdlakd, probably distinct from the 
mahdmdtd, or high officers, of the preamble. 

21 Officers,' in the singular in the text, but the following verb 
* will act ' is in the plural. The officers alluded to seem to be 
the King's Agents (pidisd), or missi dominid, the viceroys being 
empowered to employ similar Agents. 

3 Literary tradition represents Asoka as having been viceroy 
at both Taxila and Ujjain before his accession. 


The Pillar and Miscellaneous Inscriptions 

* The Seven Pillar Edicts 


'Thus saith T lis Sacred and Gracious Majesty the 
King : — When I had been consecrated twenty-six 
years, I caused this pious edict to be written '. 

Both this world and the next are difficult to secure 
save by intense love of the Law of Piety, intense 
self-examination J . intense obedience, intense dread, 
intense effort. However, owing to my instructions, 
this yearning for the Law of Piety, thjs love of the 
Law from day to day, have grown and will grow. 

My Agents, too, whether of high, low, or middle 
rank, themselves conform to my teaching and lead 
others in the right way— fickle people must be 
led into the right way — and the Wardens of the 
Marches act in like manner 1 . For this is the rule — 

1 This Edict, like all the Seven Pillar Edicts, seems to be 
addressed generally to the subjects of the empire, and not 
specially to the officials. In this series of documents Asoka 
puts on record the principles of his government and calls to 
mind the acts in which he took pride. 

2 Self-examination (paUkkd) is the subject-matter of Pillai 
Edict III, under the name of pativekhe. 

3 'Agents' (ptrffaf), literally 'men,' again mentioned in 
Pillar Edicts IV and VII, sec. 3; possibly identical with the 
' official Reporters' of Rock Edict VI, but possibly distinct. 
Compare the missi of Charlemagne, ' officials commissioned to 


protection by the Law of Piety, regulation by that 
Law, felicity by that Law, and protection by that 



' Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the 
King :— 

"The Law of Piety is excellent." But wherein 
consists the Law of Piety 1 In these things, to wit, 
little impiety \ many good deeds, compassion, liberal- 
ity, truthfulness, and purity. 

The gift of spiritual insight 2 I have given in mani- 
fold ways ; whilst on two-footed and four-footed beings, 
on birds and the denizens of the waters, I have 
conferred various favours — even unto the boon of life ; 
and many other good deeds have I done 3 . 

traverse each some part of his dominions, reporting on and 
redressing the evils they found ' (Freeman, The Holy Roman 
Empire (1892), p. 68). 'Fickle people' (chapalam) = ' sinners ' 
(Biihler). 'Wardens of the Marches' (amta-mahdmdtd) = 
antapdldh, high officers guarding the frontiers. Compare 
Charlemagne's Markgrafen. 

1 ' Little impiety' (apa- (for alpa-) dsinave). The meaning of 
dsinave, the contrary of dhamma, is exactly defined in the next 
Edict. It is a technical word, and scholars differ as to its 
derivation. See Rhys Davids, Dialogues of the Buddha, p. 92, 
and Buddhist India, p. 296. It is equivalent, as Michelson and 
Biihler point out, to the Jain anhaya, and seems to come from 
dsnu through a form *dsnava. The maxim that 'the Law of 
Piety is excellent (sddhu) ' looks like a sdvane composed by 
Asoka, or it may be a quotation. 

2 ' Spiritual insight ' (chakhaddne). This use of chakhu (Skr. 
chakshtis= i eye') is common to Hindus and Buddhists. Com- 
pare dhammaddne in Rock Edict XI. 

3 'Good deeds' {kaydndni). Compare kalana-kramasa — 
(vepyerov on a coin of Telephos. A Buddhist loves to think 

1 84 A SDK A 

For this my purpose have I caused this pious otlict 
to be written, that men may walk after its teaching. 
and that it may long endure ; and he who will follow 
its teaching will do well' 



' Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the 

Man sees his every Lfood deed, and says, " This 
good deed have I done." In no wise does he see his 
ill deed and say, " This ill deed have I done, this act 
called impiety V 

Difficult, however, is ^elf-examination of this kind . 
Nevertheless, a man Bhould Bee to this, that brutality ; . 
cruelty, anger, pride, ami jealousy, are the things that 
lead to impiety, and should Bay, ' By reason of these 
may I not fall." 

This is chiefly to )><■ sees to — "The one course 
avails mo for the present world, the other course 
avails me also for the world t<> come '." 

of'hisgood deeds. 'Nothing vu bo cahning to ;i man's soul 
as to think of even one deed he had done well in his life ' 
(Fielding Hall. Tin >'„„/ <>/ >> ft o j p fe, p. 286). See Rock 
Edict Y and Pillar Edict VII. sec. 8. 

1 P&pa—deaana is a regular expression for confession of sin 
(Thomas). For Asimwe^ ' impiety,' see preceding edict. 

2 Pat iv ekk e , 'self-examination,' seems to be equivalent to 
pdlikki of Edict II. 

3 ' Brutality ' {ckamditfe) is Rhys Davids' rendering. 

4 'Also ' = )/iana (Michelson). 'The one course,' giving way 
to the passions, which leads to dsinave; 'the other course,' 
restraint of the passions by the aid of self-examination, which 
leads to the practice of dhamma. 




4 Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the 
King : — 

When I had been consecrated twenty-six years I 
caused this pious edict to be written. 

My Commissioners have been set over many hundred 
thousands of the people, and to them I have granted 
independence in the award of honours and penalties in 
order that the Commissioners confidently and fear- 
lessly may perform their duties, bestow welfare and 
happiness on the people of the country, and confer 
favours upon them 1 . 

They will ascertain the causes of happiness or un- 
happiness, and through the subordinate officials of the 
Law of Piety will exhort the people of the country 
so that they may gain both this world and the next. 

My Commissioners, too, are eager to serve me, 
while my Agents will obey my will and orders, and 
they too, on occasion, will give exhortations, whereby 
the Commissioners will be zealous to win my favour 2 . 

For, just as a man, having made over his child to 
a skilful nurse, feels confident and says to himself, 
" The skilful nurse is zealous to take care of my child's 
happiness," even so my Commissioners have been 
created for the welfare and happiness of the country, 
with intent that fearlessly, confidently, and quietly 3 
they may perform their duties. For that reason, my 

1 ' Commissioners,' a modern official term, seems to be a good 
equivalent in rank for the Rdjukas of Asoka. See Rock 
Edict III. The Rajiikas evidently existed before his time. 

2 Ordinarily the high officers should do their business of exhor- 
tation through subordinates (dhamma-yutena), but occasionally 
(kdni) the Agents (missi dominici) might preach themselves. 
' My favour,' literally ' me.' 

3 'Confidently and quietly ' = asvaiha — samtam, an adverbial 
compound (Michelson). 

186 ASOKA 

( 'ommissioners liave been granted independence in the 
award of honours and penalties. 

Forasmuch as it is desirable that there should be 
uniformity in judicial procedure, and uniformity in 
penalties, from this time forward my rule is this — 
" To condemned men lying in prison under sentence of 
death a respite of three days is granted by me." 

During this interval the relatives of some of the 
condemned men will invite them to deep meditation, 
hoping to save their lives, or, in order to lead to 
meditation him about to die, will themselves give alms 
with a v'n -w to the other world, or undergo fasting. 
For my desire is that, even in the time of their 
confinement, the condemned men may gain the o 
world, and that among the people pious practices of 
various kinds may grow, including ^elf-control and 
distribution of alms 1 .' 



'Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the 

When I had been consecrated twenty-six years the 

1 ' Self-control ' (aampa$n*) t through the fasting recom- 
mended. Observe that there is no question of pardon. Asoka 
merely grants three days' respite for two purpose?, namely, to 
enable the condemned men to prepare for the next world, and 
to give their friends an opportunity of practising the Law of 
Piety by means of fasting and almsgiving. 

2 The reader will observe that the use of animal food is merely 
regulated, but not forbidden. Specially to be noted is the 
fact that no protection is given to the cow now held bo sacred. 
The ancient Indians used beef freely. See, for instance, the 
Ciahapati J&tmka (transl. Cowell and Rouse, ii. 94). The regu- 
lations must have given plenty of work to the Censors and their 
assistants, and have afforded much scope for official oppression. 


following species were declared exempt from slaughter, 
namely: — 

Parrots, starlings, (?) adjutants, " Brahmany ducks," 
geese, nandimukhas, geldtas, bats, queen-ants, female 
tortoises, "boneless fish," vedaveyakas, gangd'pupu- 
takas, (?) skate, (river) tortoises, porcupines, tree- 
squirrels, (?) bdrasingha stags, " Brahmany bulls," 
(?) monkeys, rhinoceros, grey doves, village pigeons, 
and all four-footed animals which are not utilized 
or eaten 1 . 

She-goats, ewes, and sows, that is to say, those 
either with young or in milk, are exempt from 
slaughter as well as their offspring up to six months 
of age. 

The caponing of cocks must not be done 2 . 

Chaff must not be burned along with the living 
things in it 3 . 

Forests must not be burned, either for mischief, or 
so as to destroy living creatures 4 . 

1 Some of the animals named cannot be identified. ' Bats,' 
not ' flying- foxes,' is the correct translation of jatuJca. Bats 
are eaten by low-caste folk in Bengal, and are considered 
strengthening diet in Coorg (Calc. Rev., 1871, p. iv). Queen-ants 
were esteemed as an aphrodisiac. ' Female tortoise ' is the 
correct translation of dudi. ' Boneless fish,' possibly prawns ; 
but in Hesiod the epithet dvoareos is applied to the cuttle-fish. 
' Monkeys ' is a doubtful rendering of okapinda. One species 
of monkey is considered a great delicacy in Coorg. 

2 The caponing of cocks is forbidden because the practice is 
intended merely to improve the flavour of the flesh, and is not 
necessary for practical farming. 

3 As on a threshing-floor to get rid of vermin. 

4 Burma supplies an illustration. ' During the progress of 
the first rise [of the river] some hunters went to one of these 
islands where many deer were to be found, and' set fire to the 
grass to drive them out of cover, shooting them as they came 
out' (Fielding Hall, The Soul of a People, p. 299). 

188 ASOKA 

The living must not be fed with the living 1 . At 
each of the three seasonal full moons, and at the full 
moon of the month Tishya (December-January), for 
three days in each case, namely the fourteenth and 
fifteenth days of the first fortnight, and the first day 
of the second fortnight, as well as on the fast days 
throughout the year, fish is exempt from killing and 
may not be sold *, 

On the same days, in elephant-preserves or fish 
ponds no other classes of animals may be destroyed. 

On the eighth, fourteenth, and fifteenth days of each 
fortnight, as well as on the Tishya and Punarvasu 
days, and festival days, the castration of bulls must 
not be performed, nor may he-goats, rams, boars, and 
other animals liable to castration be castrated ; . 

On the Tishya and Punarvasu days, on the seasonal 
full-moon days, and during the fortnights of the 
seasonal full-moons the branding of horses and oxen 
must not be done '. 

1 As bawki with the Mood of tiring pigeons, fl cruel practice 

still in vog 

2 In ancient India, ai is -till the custom in some rural 
localities, the year was divided into three Masons, the hot, 
rainy, and col«l. Th.' three full-moon> referred to probably 
are those of Phalguna (Feb.-March), Aahaflha (Jane-July), 
Kartika (Oct.-Nov.). On certain days the moon is supposed 
to be in the Tishya or Pnnarvaso asterisms, or constellations. 
There were four i'ast-dnys iii each month. The close time for 
fish came to 56 days in the year (Biihler, Ef. I ml., ii. 261-5; 
Kern, Manual of Indian Buddhism, p. 99). 

3 Castration is treated as an unholy act, but Asoka could not 
venture to prohibit it. The practice used to be regarded in 
Bengal a«> ' very illegal and disgraceful and not fit to be men- 
tioned ' [East, m India, ii. 891). I-tsingsays that ' the Buddha, 
did not allow even castration * (transl. Takakusu, p. 197). 

4 Branding was treated in the same spirit as an unholy, but 
necessary act. For the ancient practice in Ceylon see Ceylon 
Xat. Review, 1907, p. 334. 


During the time up to the twenty- sixth anniversary 
of my consecration twenty-five jail deliveries have 
been effected.' 



'Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the 
King :— 

When I had been consecrated twelve years I caused 
pious edicts to be written for the welfare and happi- 
ness of mankind, with the intent that they, giving up 
their old courses, might attain growth in piety, one 
way or another 1 . 

Thus, aiming at the welfare and happiness of man- 
kind, I devote my attention alike to my relatives, to 
persons near, and to persons afar off, if haply I may 
guide some of them to happiness 2 , and to that end 
I make my arrangements 3 . 

In like manner I devote my attention to all com- 
munities 4 , for all denominations are reverenced by 

1 That is to say, the publication of pious edicts began in the 
thirteenth 'regnal year,' B.C. 257, the earliest being Minor 
Rock Edict I, and the next Rock Edicts III and IV. ' Giving 
up their old courses,' a paraphrase of tam apahatd, in Buhler's 
sense. M. Senart renders ' taking away something, 1 from the 
teaching. ' One way or another, a paraphrase of tam tam. 

2 This clause expresses clearly the object of Buddhist ethics. 

3 This clause has been accidentally omitted in Buhler's 

4 'All communities,' savanikdyesu, a term of indefinite mean- 
ing. Compare Rock Edict XIII. The renderings ' corporations ' 
(Buhler), and ' the whole body of my officers ' (Senart), are too 
definite. Here the word is practically equivalent to the follow- 
ing savapdsamdd, ' all denominations. 1 So the Pali Kosa 
entitled Abhidhclna-pradipikd, defines nikdya as ' an assembly of 
co-religionists,' sajdtinath tu kitlam, nikdyo tit sadharminam 
(Bhagwan Lai, J. Bo. Br. H. A. S., xii. 408). 

190 ASOKA 

mu with various forms of reverence K Nevertheless. 
persona] adherence to one's own creed is the chief 
thing in my opinion 8 . 

When I had been consecrated twenty-six years I 
caused this pious edict to be written.' 



I. ' Thus saith i I is Sacred and ( Jracious Majesty the 

The kings who lived in times past desired that men 

1 Compare the opening sentence of Bock Edict XII. 
M. Benart'fl interpretation! Rock Edict XII develops the 

Thii edict, the longest and moil important of the collec- 
tion, oonsistfl of ten distinct documents, or sections, each 
prefaced bj the phrase 'Thus saith Bit Majesty, 1 -lightly 
varied in form. Section I recites the failure of former kings 
to promote the growth of tUtarma. In Section J I Anoka formu- 
late! his resolre to do better, and in Section III he enumerate! 
the arrangement- made by him for preaching the Law. Section 
IV records the erection of pillars, the creation of Censors, and 
the composition (kate) of ' a precept ' or ' the precept ' (sdrane), 
apparently that of 'Let small and great exert themselves ' in 
Minor Rock Edict 1. In .Section V the sovereign recalls his 
efforts to promote the comfort of travellers, and adds that such 
material benefits are of small account compared with con- 
formity to the Law of Piety. In Section VI he recurs to the 
topic of the Censors, and in Section VII treats of the organiza- 
tion of the Royal Almoners' department. Section VIII deals 
with the royal example, the subject of Pillar Edict II ; and 
Section IX extols the ethical effect of meditation, as compared 
with that of detailed pious regulations, such as those in Pillar 
Edict V. The final order in Section X provide- for the effective 


might grow with the growth of the Law of Piety. 
Men, however, did not grow with the growth of the 
Law of Piety in due proportion. 

II. Therefore, thus saith His Sacred and Gracious 
Majesty the King : — 

This thought occurred to me : — In times past kings 
desired that men might grow with the growth of the 
Law of Piety in due proportion ; men, however, did not 
in due proportion grow with the growth of that Law. 

By what means, then, can men be induced to con- 
form ? by what means can men grow with the growth 
of the Law of Piety in due proportion ? by what means 
can I lift up some at least of them through the growth 
of that Law ? 

III. Therefore, thus saith His Sacred and Gracious 
Majesty the King: — 

This thought occurred to me : — I will cause the 
precepts of the Law of Piety to be preached, and with 
instruction in that Law will I instruct, so that men 
hearkening thereto may conform, lift themselves up, 
and mightily grow with the growth of the Law of 

For this my purpose the precepts of the Law of 
Piety have been preached, manifold instructions in 
that law have been disseminated, so that my Agents, 
too, set over the multitude will expound and expand 
my teaching. 

The Commissioners, also, set over many hundred 
thousands of souls, have received instructions — "In 

publication of the document. Thus the Edict deals with nearly 
all the forms of Asoka's religious activity, the notable excep- 
tion being that no allusion is made to the foreign missions. 
If allowance be made for the Buddhistic repetitions, which 
weary the European ear, the style may be pronounced to be 
lucid and dignified. The review was issued for general informa- 
tion and takes the form of a direct address by the sovereign, 
who speaks in his own person. 

192 ASOKA 

such and such a manner expound my teaching to the 
body of subordinate officials of the Law V 

IV. Thus saith His Sacred and ( Jracious Majesty : — 
Considering further the same purpose, I have set 

up pillars of the Law, appointed Censors of the Law, 
and composed a precept of the Law -. 

V. Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the 

On the roads, too, 1 have had banyan-trees planted 
to give shade to man and beast ; grovee of mango-trees 
I have had planted ; at every haM-kds I have caused 
wells to bo dug ; rest-houses have been erected ; and 
numerous watering-places have been provided by mr 
here and there for llie enjoyment of man and beast :i . 

A small matter, however, is that so-called enjoy- 

With various blessings has mankind been blessed 
by former kings, as by me also ; by me, however, 
with the intent that men may conform to the Law of 
Piety, has it been done even M I thought -1 . 

VI. Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty : — 
My Censors of the Law of Piety are employed on 

1 Note that in this section the precepts are mentioned in the 
plural as being preached (s&vApitdni), not composed (kate), 
in the singular, EUl in Beetion IV. For Agents and Censors see 
Rock Edicts V, VI, and Fillar Edict III. ' Body of subordinate 
officials of the Law ' (Janam dhammayutam). I now agree with 
Mr. Thomas that this is the right rendering, and not 'lieges,' 

or 'faithful people. 1 

" The distinction between the singular (mvane) ' precept ' 
ami the plurals ' Censors ' and ' pillars ' seems to be intentional. 
This observation adds another reason for assigning an early 
date to Minor Rock Edict I, which enforces ' the precept ' 
apparently alluded to. 

3 See Rock Edict II. 1 think adhakosikydni must mean ' at 
every half-A-os, 1 like Chandragupta's ' milestone*. ' 

4 " Has it been done; even as I thought ' (MichelflOn), 


manifold objects of the royal favour affecting both 
ascetics and householders, and are likewise employed 
among all denominations. Moreover, I have arranged 
for their employment in the business of the Church x , 
and in the same way I a have employed them among 
the Brahmans and the Ajivikas, and among the Jains 
also are they employed, and, in fact, among all the 
different denominations. 

The ordinary high officers shall severally super- 
intend their respective charges, whereas the officers 
who are Censors of the Law are employed in the 
superintendence of all other denominations in addition 
to such charges 2 . 

VII. Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty 
the King : — 

These and many other high officers are employed in 
the distribution of the royal alms, both my own and 
those of the Queens 3 ; and in all the royal households, 
both here [sell, at the capital], and in the provinces, 
those officers indicate in divers ways the manifold 
opportunities for charity 4 . 

1 ' The Church ' (samgha), the Buddhist monastic order, no 
doubt including here the lay disciples. Compare the Bhabra 
and Sarnath Pillar Edicts. 

2 The further reference to the Censors, the mahdm&tras, high 
officers or ministers specially appointed to teach and enforce 
the Law of Piety, shows the great importance attached by 
Asoka to that institution. 

3 'The Queens' (devinam), the principal consorts with the 
title Devi, ' Her Majesty.' They may have been four in number, 
as later in Burma. Their sons were the Princes (Kumdrd), as 
distinguished from the royal offspring by other women. See 
the Queen's Edict. The Second Queen, the Karuvaki, the 
mother of Tivara, is the only one specifically mentioned. The 
legends about Asandhimitra and Tishyarakshita are of no his- 
torical value. 

4 This is Kern's interpretation of tuthdyatandni, ' sources of 


194 ASOKA 

I have also arranged that the saino officers should 
be employed in the distribution of the alms of my 
sons and of the Princes, the Queens' sons l , in order 
to promote pious acts and conformity to the Law of 
Piety. For the pious acts and conformity referred to 
are those whereby compassion, liberality, truth, purity, 
gentleness, and saintliness will thus grow among 

VIII. Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty 
the King : — 

Whatsoever meritorious deeds 1 have dour, those 
deods mankind have conformed to and will imitate, 
whence follows that they have grown and will grow in 
the virtues of hearkening to father and mother, heark- 
ening to teachers, reverence to the aged, and seemly 
treatment of Brahman- and asoetics, of the poor and 
wretched, yea, even of slaves and servants. 

IX. Thus saith His Sacred and Gracious Majesty 
the King: — 

Among men. however, when the aforesaid growth 
of piety lias grown, it has been effected by two-fold 
means, namely, by pious regulation- and meditation. 
Of these two means pious regulations are of small 
account, whereas meditation is superior. 

Nevertheless, pious regulations have been issued by 
me to the effect that such and sueh species are exempt 
from slaughter, and their are many other pious regu- 
lations which I have issuecL J>ut the superior effect 
of meditation is seen in the growth of piety among 
men and the more complete abstention from killing 
animate beings and from the sacrificial slaughter of 
living creatures '-. 

contentment/ and so ' opportunities for charity.' The meaning 
seems forced, but I have nothing better to offer. 

1 The only Prince named in the Edicts is Tivara, but others 
are alluded to, and tradition names Jalauka, SuyaSas, &c. 

'-' I follow Mr. Thomas in the interpretation of vihimsn and 


For this purpose has this edict been composed that, 
so long as sun and moon endure 1 , my sons and descend- 
ants may conform thereto, and by such conformity the 
gain of both this world and the next is assured. 

When I had been consecrated twenty- seven years 
I caused this pious edict to be written. 

X. Concerning this His Sacred Majesty saith : — 
Wheresoever stone pillars or tables of stone exist, 
there must this pious edict be inscribed, so that it 
may long endure V 

The Minor Pillar Edicts 


I. ' [Thus saith] His Sacred Majesty : — [Both at] 
Pata-[liputraand in the provinces His Sacred Majesty 
commands the officials that] the Church may not be 
rent in twain by any person 4 . But whosoever, monk 
or nun, shall break the unity of the Church, shall be 

1 The phrase recurs in the Cave Dedications of Dasaratha. 

2 This order does not appear to have been executed. The 
only known text of this document is on the Delhi-Topra Pillar, 
and no copy of any Pillar Edict on the rocks has yet been 

3 This edict exhibits Asoka in his later years acting as both 
emperor and Head of the Church. His position, as observed 
elsewhere, much resembled that of Charlemagne. 

4 The tenor of the document shows that it was addressed to 
high officials, and the lost opening sentence must necessarily 
have been something like the words supplied in brackets. The 
syllables Fata apparently must belong to the name _ Pata- 
liputra, the only word in the inscriptions which begins with 
those syllables. 

N % 

196 ASOKA 

compelled to wear white garments and to dwell in 
a place not reserved for the clergy l . 

II. Tims saith His Sacred Majesty: — 

One copy of this edict has been posted for your use 
in your (?) office and one similar copy of it you must 
pui up Cor the information of the laity, so that the lay 
folk may attend on each I ast-day s to make themselves 
familiar with this ordinance; and OH the fast days 
throughout the year every high official should attend 
the fast-day service to make himself familiar and 
acquainted with this ordinance. 

And so far as your jurisdiction extends, you must 
send it out everywhere according to this text, and 
likewise in garrisons and Districts you must cause it 
to be sent out according to this t« 



' His Sacred Majesty instructs the high officers at 
KausamhS as follows: — 

. . . the Way of the Church must not be quitted. 
Whosoever shall break the unity of the Church, 

1 The schismatic was to be 'unfrocked ' by being deprived of 
the monastic yellow robe and compelled to dress in white like 
the laity, dwelling in some place outside the monastery pre- 
oincts. 'Rend in twain,' bhetare. 'Break the unity of,' 
bhdkhatit not bhokhati as read by some. Buddhaghosha declares 
that after the Council of Pataliputra Asoka actually expelled 
the schismatics, 'giving them white garments' {Sani'mta- 
pdsddihd^ quoted by Boyer^. 

2 There were four fast-days in each month. 

3 This last sentence gives material aid to the correct interpre- 
tation of Minor Rock Edict I. Garrisons or fortified places 
were under commandants, and Districts {risho>j<<) under civil 
officers (rishayapati), through whom the orders were to be 


whether monk or nun, from this time forth, shall be 
compelled to wear white garments and to dwell in 
a place not reserved for the clergy V 



' . . . The Way [of the Church] has been made. . . . 
Whosoever shall break the unity of the Church, 
whether monk or nun, shall be compelled to wear 
white garments and to dwell in a place not reserved 
for the clergy. 

For my desire is that the Way of the Church may 
long endure V 



'By command of His Sacred Majesty, the high 
officers everywhere are to be addressed as follows : — 

Whatever donation has been made by the Second 
Queen, be it a mango-grove, pleasure-garden, charit- 

1 Before the discovery of the Sarnath Edict the phrase about 
the Way was misunderstood as referring to a material proces- 
sion path. It is now plain that this document is merely one 
of the copies ordered by the Sarnath Edict to be sent out. The 
substantive command is the same. 

2 The concluding sentence is an interesting variation. 
M. Boyer's attempt to fill up the principal lacuna is too con- 
jectural to be convincing. 

3 The position of this document on the column shows that it 
must be later in date than the Six Pillar Edicts of B.C. 243. 
The script exhibits some cursive and unusual forms. See 
Pillar Edict VII, sec. 7, for notice of the high officials charged 
with the distribution of the Queens' alms. 


able hostel \ or aught else, is to 1)0 accounted as the 
act of that Queen. All transactions of the kind are 
[for the acquisition ofmerii *] by the Second Queen, 
Tivara's mother, the Karnvak 



I. The Sudanis or Banyan-tree Cave. 

'This "banyan-tree" cave was granted to the 
Ajivikas by the King's Grace when he had l»een 
consecrated twelve years.' 

II. The Visva-jhopri or Khalatika Hill Cava 
'This cave in the Khalatika Hill was granted to 

tli«- Ajtvikaa by the King's Grace when he had been 
consecrated twelve years. 

III. The Kania-chaupar or Supiyd Cave. 

'The King's Grace, when consecrated nineteen 
years, granted the Supiyl cave (?) in the Khalatika 
Hill for as long as sun and moon endure . 

1 * Charitable hofailS d&nogdhe - d&naSdld = taddontta, a rest- 
house where doles of food, and in some cases shelter for a night, 
are given free to travellers. 

2 The meaning of the few missing characters may be 

conjecturally supplied as in brackets. 

3 The names are spelled Tivala and Kfiluvfiki in the dialect of 
Magadha. The Second Queen evidently was in high favour as 
the mother of a son who might succeed to the throne. But he 
seems to have predeceased his father. Most traditions re- 
present Asoka as being succeeded by a grandson. Karuvaki is 
a family or gotra name, meaning ' of the Karuvaka race. 1 The 
Queen's personal name, in accordance with custom, is not 
stated. Other copies of the document may be discovered. 

4 For the Ajivikas see ante, p. 135. Inscription III has been 
wilfully defaced and is only partially legible, but the date 
can be made out. 

Plate II 




r. Devanapiyenu lajina visativasabliisitcna 

2. atana agacha mahiyitc hida budlic jatc sakyamuniti 

3. sila vigadabhicha kalapita silathabhecha usapapite 

4. hida bhagavaiii jatcti lumminigame ubalikekate 

5. athabhagiyecha 

Asoka's Inscription on the RummindeI Pillar 

From impression taken by Dr. Fukrer] 

Face p. 199 


The Commemorative Inscriptions on the Tarai 



' His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King, when 
he had been consecrated twenty years, having come 
in person, did reverence ; and, because " Here Buddha 
was born, the Sakya sage/' a great (?) railing of stone 
was prepared and a stone pillar erected. 

Because rt Here the Venerable One was born " the 
village of Lummini was made free of religious cesses 
and declared entitled to the eighth share (of the 
produce claimed by the Crown) V 

1 This interesting and perfectly preserved inscription (Plate 
II) has given rise to much discussion, several of the words in it 
not being known to occur elsewhere. The modern Rummin-dei 
is the ancient Lumbini Garden, the traditional scene of 
Gautama Buddha's birth. The inscription is in the dialect of 
Magadha, which prefers I to r. The rendering of malmjite 
by ' did reverence ' is in accordance with the opinion of the late 
Prof. Pischel and other eminent scholars. Dr. Fleet's version 
depends on his theory of the late conversion of Asoka, which is 
untenable in my judgement. The phrases 'Here Buddha was 
born, the Sakya sage,' and ' Here the Venerable One was born ' 
apparently are quotations, and the latter is put in the mouth 
of Upagupta in the legend of the pilgrimage (ch. vii, post). 
The 'great railing of stone' seems to me now to be the 
best rendering proposed for sild-vigada-bhicha , but no such 
railing has been found. The stone pillar is broken. Ubalike 
is best understood as = udbalika = free of cesses (bali). Bali 
properly means ' religious cesses.' Athabhdgiye is, I think, 
to be interpreted as meaning 'entitled to the eighth share 
of the produce claimed by the Crown.' Bhdga was the tech- 
nical term for what we now call 'land-revenue.' The distinc- 
tion between bali and bhdga is drawn clearly by Chanakya, 

200 ASOKA 


ASOKA'S VISIT TO THE >TI I'A of konakamana 

'His Sacred and Gracious Majesty the King, when 
lie had boon consecrated fourteen years, enlarged for 
the second time th<' dtiipa of Buddha Konakamana, 
and. when he had been consecrated [twenty years], 
} laving come in person, did reverence, and erected 
[a stone pillar] V 

Kk. ii, eh. xv. • Taxes thai arc fixed {pinddhtra ; i.e. levied from 
whole villages, Comm.), taxe-^ are paid in the form of 
one-sixth of the produce [shatfbhdgai hut the word include! 

one-fourth, one-third portions, &c. Comm. ; and so is practically 
equivalent to asfUa (afha) bk&ga)\ provisions paid for the awe 
of the army [aendbhakta ; oil, rice, salt, &c, Comm.) ; taxes 
that are paid for religious parpOfCI (ball ; such as taxes of 
10 }>tiv«s, 20 papas, &c, but not restricted to religious pur- 
posei only, Comm,)*' The result of A^okaV visit was that the 
village, hallowed M the birthplace of the Sakya sage, was 
declared to be wholly * revenue-free,' in the sense that it was 
no longer liable to pay either ' revenue ' or ' cesses.' 

J This imperfect inscription, incised on a broken pillar, 
removed from its original position, and now lying on the bank 
of an artificial lake about thirteen miles in a north-westerly 
direction from Rummindei, evidently stood originally beside 
the sfii/m of Konakamana, 01 Kanakamuni, one of the 'former 
Buddhas,' who seem to have been honoured long before the 
Sakya sage began to teach. The stupa has not been identified, 
Dr. Fuhrer's pretended identification being a forgery. The 
distinct intimation that in Asoka's fifteenth 'regnal year' 
(B.C. 255) the stupa of Konakamana was already so old that it 
required to be k enlarged for the second time ' indicates the 
high antiquity of the cult of the * former Buddhas.' The 
predecessor of Konakamana was Krakuchanda,.or Kakusanda, 
whose birthplace was marked by a sttipa to the south of 
Kapilavastu, and only a few miles distant from that dedicated 
to Konakamana. The reputed house, or birthplace, of Kasyapa, 



I. The Vabiyaka Cave. 

' The Vahiyaka cave was assigned by Dasaratha, 
His Sacred Majesty, immediately after his consecra- 
tion 1 , to the venerable Ajivikas 2 as a dwelling-place, 
for as long as sun and moon endure V 

II. The Gopika Cave. 

Identical with I, except for the name of the cave. 

III. The Vadathika Cave. 

Identical with I and II, except for the name of the 

or Kassapa, the last of the ' former Buddhas,' was an old town 
near ^ravasti. These facts, reported by Hiuen Tsang, indicate 
that the cult of the 'former Buddhas' originated in the 
sub-Himalayan region to the north of Oudh and the adjoining 

The formula of the inscription follows the model of that at 
Rummindei, and both records may be assumed to belong to the 
same year (B.C. 249), and to mark two stages in the one ' pious 
tour.' It is highly probable that other pillars marking other 
stages still exist. 

1 The unusual order ot the words, Dasalathena devdndm- 
piyena, has suggested to Dr. Fleet the possible rendering, 'by 
D., immediately after his consecration by His Sacred Majesty,' 
scil. Asoka. 

2 'Venerable' (hhadamtehi). ' Bhadanta is a title which 
has never been applied to any members of a Brahmanical 
sehool. The Ajivikas, therefore, could not have been a Brah- 
manical sect ' (Bhandarkar). 

3 This phrase is found also in Pillar Edict VII, sec. 9, and in 
the damaged No. Ill Barabar Cave Dedication. In later times it 
became a commonplace in grants recorded on copper-plates. 

202 ASOKA 


The older publications of Prinsep, &c, are not cited. A full 
list of references up to 1902 will be found in R. Otto Franke, 
IYi/i und 8emtkrU, pp. 1-5 (Strassburg, 1902). 

/. Gen cm I. 

Senart, Emile — Lss Inscriptions ds Piyadasi (Paris, tome i, 
1 88 1 ; tome ii, 1886). This groat work, although based on 
imperfect materials, and necessarily omitting the docu- 
ments discovered since its publication, is still indispens- 

Cunningham, Sir A. — Inscriptions <>/ Atoka (Calcutta, 18771. 
Not now of much value'oxeept for topographical details. 

Hardy, Prof. E.—Kbnig Asoka (Mainz, 1902). A popular 
account of the reign on traditional lines, with incidental 
discussion of the inscriptions. 

//. Minor Rock Edicts, 

Biihler, G. — Sidd&pnra (Mysore) versions, ed. and tiansl. with 
bos. in /.'/'. In'/., iii. 135-42; Sanasram, Bairat, and 
Rupnfith version-, ed. and transL with facs. in Ind. Ant., 
vi. 155 ; xxii. 299. See also ibid., xxvi. 334. 

Rice. Lewis— Facs. of Sidd&pnra version- in Ep.Carn., vol.xi 
(Bangalore, 1903). 

Fleet, J. T.— Variou- papers in ./. /,'. A. >., 1903, 1904, 1908, 1909. 
See also remark* by Thomas, P.W., in Ind. Ant., xxxvii 
(1908), p. 21. 

///. Bhdbrd Edict. 

Senart, Emile — revised ed. and transl. in Ind. Ant., xx. 165. 

Burgess, J.— facs. in Journal As.. 1887. See also J.R.A.S.. 
1898, p. 639 ; 1901, pp. 314, 577 ; J. PtUi Text Soc, 1896 ; 
and Sylvain Levi, 'Notes sur Diverses Inscriptions de 
Piyada-i' (J. As., Mai-Juin, 1896). 

/ T '. Fo nrU 1 n Bock Edicts. 
The standard edition of the series is Bflhler's in Ep. Ind., ii, 
pp. 447-72, with facs. of Oirnar. Shahbazgarhi, Mansahra, and 


Kalsi texts. The same scholar eel. and transl. with facs. Ed. XII, 
Shahbazgarhi, in Ep. Ind., i. 16 ; and ed. and transl. with facs. 
the Dhauli and Jaugada recensions in Burgess's Amardvati, 
1887 (A.S.S.I.), pp. 114-25. Facs. of Girnar text in Burgess, 
Kdthidivdr and Kachh (A.S. W. I., vol. ii), pp. 93-127, but the 
transl. there given is obsolete. For Ed. II see V. A. Smith in 
Ind. Ant., xxxiv (1905), pp. 245-51. Ed. Ill, with the Minor 
Rock Edicts, is discussed by V. A. Smith and F. W. Thomas in 
Ind. Ant., xxxvii (1908), p. 19; to which Fleet replied in 
J. R.A. S., 1908, pp. 811-22. Comments on various matters by 
V. A. Smith in Ind. Ant., xxxii (1903), p. 364. Ed. I and II dis- 
cussed by Bhandarkar in J. Bo. Br. F. A. S.; vol. xx (1902). 
Various comments by R. 0. Franke, 'Zu Acoka's Felsen-Edicten' 
in Nadir, der Konigl. Gesellsch. d. Wissensch. zu Gottingen, 1895. 

V. Kalinga Edicts. 
Senart, Emile, and Grierson — Revised ed. and transl. in Ind. 
Ant., xix (1890), pp. 82-102. Buhler, G.— Ed. transl. with facs. 
in Burgess, Amardvati, pp. 125-31. 

VI. Seven Pillar Edicts. 

The standard ed. is Btihler's, with transl. and xacs. of some 
texts, in Ep. Ind., ii (1894), pp. 245-74. Senart's revised ed. 
and transl. in Ind. Ant., xvii (1888), pp. 303-7; xviii (1889), 
pp. 1, 73, 105, 300. Valuable textual criticism and some inter- 
pretations by Michelson, T., in ' Notes on the Pillar Edicts of 
Asoka,' in Indogermanische Forschungen, 1908 (Sonderabzug, 
Trubner, Strassburg). Edict V specially treated by Monmohan 
Chakravarti, ' Animals in the Inscriptions of Piyadasi ' (Memoirs 
of the A. S. B., quarto, Calcutta, 1906). For the Rampurwa 
pillars see J. R. A. S., 1908, p. 1085. Facs. of inscr. on Delhi- 
Topra and Allahabad Pillars by Fleet and Buhler in Ind. Ant., 
xiii (1884), p. 306. 

VII. Minor Pillar Edicts. 

Sanchi Edict, ed. and transl. with facs. by Buhler in Ep. Ind., 
ii. 87, 367. Queen's Edict, revised ed. and transl. by Senart in 
Ind. Ant., xviii (1889), p. 308 ; and by Buhler, ibid., xix (1890), 
p. 125. Kausambi Edict, transcribed by Senart, ibid., xviii, 

204 ASOKA 

p. 309; facs. and transcript by Biihler, ibid., xix, p, 126. The 
above interpretations, which are partially erroneous, have been 
corrected by the discovery of Hlfl Sarnath Edict, 1905, which 
has been discussed by Vogel, pith fa ml, in Ep, Intl., viii. 166; 
Venis, J. <oi I Proc. A. 8. B, % 1907 ; Senart, Comptes Rend 
VAcad. dot Tnscr^ 1907, p. 25 ; Boyer, Journal As., tome x 
(1907), ]>. 119. The interpretation of this edict is connected with 
that of the Minor Rock Edicts, which see. For account of the 
Sarnath Pillar Bee Annual /•'< />. Arch. 8, for 1904-5, pp. 36, 68. 

17//. Tht Tar&i Commemorativi Tntcriptiona, 
Both were ed. and transl. by Bflhler with facs. in lip. in</., v. 4. 
The Rummindel inscr. has been much discussed ; transcript in 
J.R.A.s., 1897, ]». 4; facs. in PL II of thii work. Revised 
transl. by Prof. Pischel in Sitzungtb, <l. k'<)>i. preuM, Akod\ d. 
Wissrimchuftt n, 1903 ; which is discussed in In//. Ant., xxxiv 
(1905). )». I. Dr. Fleet expounds hia latest view (with addi- 
tional ref.) in ./. /,*. .1. >'., 1908, pp. 471-98, and 823. 

/A. A. Cam Dedications of Asokaand DaiatxUha. 

Both were ed. and transl. by lUihlcrwith fees, in Ind. Ant.,xx 
(1891', p. 361. 


The Ceylonese Legend of Asoka 

The legends related in this chapter and in that 
following are related simply as legends, without 
criticism, or discussion of their historical value K 

the conversion op asoka 

Kalasoka, king of Magadha, had ten sons, who 
after his death ruled the kingdom righteously for 
twenty-two years. They were succeeded by other 
nine brothers, the Nandas, who likewise, in order of 
seniority, ruled the kingdom for twenty-two years 2 . 

1 The legends have been compiled by combining the narra- 
tives of the Dipavamsa and the Mahavamsa, which may fairly 
be combined, both being derived from the traditions preserved 
at the Mahavihara monastery. Wijesinha's revised edition of 
Tumour's translation of the Mahavamsa (Colombo, Govern- 
ment Record Office, 1889) has been used. His corrections 
of Tumour's version are material. For the Dipavamsa, 
Oldenberg's edition and translation have been used. The 
indexes to Tumour's Mahavamsa and Oldenberg's Dipa- 
vamsa make easy the verification of particular statements. 
Another summary of the legends will be found in Hardy's 
Eastern Monachism. 

2 Tumour omits the words 'the Nandas.' The Dipavamsa 
substitutes Susunaga for Kalasoka, makes Asoka to be the son 
of Susunaga, and omits all mention of the nine Nanda brothers, 
and their reign of twenty-two years (Dip. v. 25, 97-99). These 
discrepancies prove the untrustworthiness of the chronicles. 

206 AS OK A 

A Brahman named Chanakya, who had conceived 
an implacable hatred against Dhana Nanda, the Last 

survivor of the nine brothers, put that king to death, 
and placed upon the throne Chandra Gupta, a mender 
of the princely Maurya clan, who assumed the 
sovereignty of all India, and reigned gloriously for 
twenty-four years 1 . He was succeeded by his son 
Bindusara, who ruled the land for twenty-eight years. 

The sons of Bindusara, the offspring of sixteen 
mothers, numbered one hundred and one, of whom 
the eldest was named Sumana, and the youngest 
Tishva (Tissa). A third BOn, Asoka, uterine brother 
of Tishva, had been appointed Viceroy of Western 
India by his father. On receiving news of King 
Bindusara's mortal illness, Asoka <juitted Ujjain, the 
Seal of his government, and hastened to Pataliputra 
(Patna),the capital <>t" tie- empire. On his arrival at 
the capital, he s]« \v his eldest brother Sumana, and 
ninety-eight other brothers, saving alive but one, 
Tishya, the youngest of all. Having thus secured 
his throne, Asoka became lord of all India, but by 
reason of the mas-acre of his brothers he was known 
as Asoka the Wicked. 

Now it so happened that when Prince Sumana was 
slain, his wife was with child. She fled from the 
slaughter, and was obliged to seek shelter in a village 

1 Not 'thirty-four years,' as given both by Tumour and 
Wijesinha. The figure 34 is a copyist's blunder; see com- 
mentary quoted by Tumour, p. lii (Rhys Davids, Ancient Coins 
and Measures of Ceylon, p. 41, note;. 


of outcastes beyond the eastern gate. The headman of 
the outcastes, pitying her misery, entreated her kindly, 
and, doing her reverence, served her faithfully for 
seven years. On that very day on which she was 
driven forth from the palace she gave birth to a boy, 
on whom the name Nigrodha was bestowed. The 
child was born with the marks of sanctity, and when 
he attained the age of seven was already an ordained 

The holy child, whose royal origin was not known, 
happened one day to pass by the palace, and attracted 
the attention of the king, who was struck by his grave 
and reverend deportment. King Asoka, highly de- 
lighted, sent for the boy, who drew near with decorum 
and self-possession. 

The king said, ' My child, take any seat which thou 
thinkest befitting.' Nigrodha, seeing that no priest 
other than himself was present, advanced towards the 
royal throne as the befitting seat. Whereupon King 
Asoka, understanding that this monk was destined to 
become lord of the palace, gave the boy his arm, and 
seating him upon the throne, refreshed him with meat 
and drink prepared for his own royal use. 

Having thus shown his respect, the king questioned 
the boy monk concerning the doctrines of Buddha, and 
received from him an exposition of the doctrine of 
earnestness, to the effect that ' earnestness is the way 
to immortality, indifference is the way to death.' This 
teaching so wrought upon the heart of the king, that 
he at once accepted the religion of Buddha, and gave 

208 ASOKA 

gifts to the priesthood. The next day Nigrodha 
returned to the palace with thirty-two priests, and 
by preaching the law, established king and people in 
the faith and the practice of piety. In this manner 
was King Asoka constrained to abandon the Brahman- 
ical faith of his father, and to accept as a lay disciple 
the sacred law of Buddha, 

These things happened in the fourth year after 
the accession of King Asoka, who in the same 
year celebrated his Bolemn coronation, and appointed 
his younger brother Tishya to be his deputy or vice- 

The sixty thousand Bralmians. who for three years 

had daily enjoyed the bounty of Asoka, as they had 
enjoyed that of Ids predecessors on the tin-one, were 

dismissed, and in their place Buddhist monks in equal 

numbers wen- constantly entertained at the palace, 
and treated with such lavish generosity that four 
lakhs of treasure were each day expended One day, 

the king, having feasted the monks at the palace, 
inquired the number of the sections of the law, and 
having learned thai the sections of the law were 
eighty-four thousand in number, he resolved to 
dedicate a sacred edifice to each. Wherefore, the 
king commanded the local rulers to erect eighty- four 
thousand sacred edifices in as many towns of India. 
and himself constructed the Asokarama at the capital. 
All the edifices were completed within three years, 
and in a single day the news of their completion 
reached the Court. By means of the supernatural 


powers with which he was gifted, King Asoka was 
enabled to behold at one glance all these works 
throughout the empire. 

From the time of his consecration as emperor of 
India, two hundred and eighteen years after the death 
of the perfect Buddha, the miraculous faculties of 
royal majesty entered into King Asoka, and the glory 
which he obtained by his merit extended a league 
above and a league below the earth. 

The denizens of heaven were his servants, and daily 
brought for his use water from the holy lake, lus- 
cious, fragrant fruits, and other good things beyond 
measure and without stint. 

The king, lamenting that he had been born too late 
to behold the Buddha in the flesh, besought the aid of 
the Snake-King, who caused to appear a most enchant- 
ing image of Buddha, in the full perfection of beauty, 
surrounded by a halo of glory, and surmounted by the 
lambent flame of sanctity, in honour of which glorious 
vision a magnificent festival was held for the space of 
seven days. 


While Asoka during his royal father's lifetime was 
stationed at Ujjain as viceroy of the Avanti country, 
he formed a connexion with a lady of the Setthi caste, 
named Devi, who resided at Vedisagiri (Besnagar 
near Bhilsa) \ She accompanied the prince to Ujjain, 
1 Tumour's text reads ' Chetiyagiri.' 


21 o A SDK A 

and there bore fco him a son named Mahendra, two 
hundred and four years after the death of Buddha 1 . 
Two years later a daughter named Sanghamitti was 
born. Devi continued to reside at Vedisagiri after 
Asoka seized tlie tlirone ; but the children accom- 
panied their father to the capital, where Banghamitra 
was given in marriage to Agni Brahma, nephew of the 
king, to whom she bore a son named Sumana. 

In the fourth year after King Asoka's coronation, 
his brother Tishya, the vicegerent, his nephew Agni 

BrahmA, and his grandson Sumana were all ordained. 
Tlit- king, who had received the news of the comple- 
tion of the eighty-four thousand sacred edifices, held a 

solemn assembly of millions of monks and nuns, and, 
comin-- in full state in prison, took up his station in 

the midst n\' the priesthood The king's piety had 
by this time washed away the stain of fratricide, and 
he who had been known as Asoka the Wicked, was 
henceforth celebrated as Asoka the Pious. 

After his brother Tishya had devoted himself to 
religion, Asoka proposed to replace him in the office 
of vicegerent by Prince Mahendra, but at the urgent 
entreaty of his spiritual director, Tishya son of 
Moggali (Mudgalya), the king was persuaded to permit 
of the ordination both of Mahendra and his sister 
Sanghamitra. The young prince had then attained 
the canonical age of twenty, and was therefore at 
once ordained. The princess assumed the yellow robe, 
but was obliged to defer her admission to the Order 
1 This date is given by the Dipavaihsa, vi. 20, 21. 


for two years, until she should attain full age. 
Mahendra was ordained in the sixth year of the king's 
reign, dating from his coronation. 

In the eighth year of the reign, two saints, named 
respectively Sumitra and Tishya, died. Their death 
was attended with such portents that the world at 
large became greatly devoted to the Buddhist religion, 
and the liberality of the people to the priests was 
multiplied. The profits so obtained attracted to the 
Order many unworthy members, who set up their own 
doctrines as the doctrines of Buddha, and per- 
formed unlawful rites and ceremonies, even sacrifices 
after the manner of the Brahmans, as seemed good 
unto them. Hence was wrought confusion both in 
the doctrine and ritual of the Church. 

The disorders waxed so great that the heretics out- 
numbered the true believers, the regular rites of the 
church were in abeyance for seven years, and the 
king's spiritual director, Tishya son of Moggali, 
was obliged to commit his disciples to the care of 
Prince Mahendra, and himself to retire into solitude 
among the mountains at the source of the Ganges. 

Tishya, the son of Moggali, having been persuaded 
to quit his retreat, expelled the heretics, produced the 
Kathavatthu treatise, and held the Third Council of 
the Church at the Asokarama in Pataliputra. These 
events happened in the year 236 after the death of 
Buddha, and seventeen and a half years after the 
coronation of King Asoka. 

In the same year King Devanampiya Tissa (Tishya) 

212 ASOKA 

ascended the throne of Ceylon, and became the firm 
friend and ally of King Asoka, although Hie two 

sovereigns never met. The King of Ceylon, in order 
to show his friendship and respect, dispatched a 
mission to India, headed by his nephew, Mahl Arittha. 
In seven days the envoys reached the port of Tamalipti 
(Tamluk in Bengal), and in seven days more arrived 
at the Imperial Court They were royally entertained 
by King Asoka, who was graciously pleased to accept 
the rich and rare presents sent by his ally, in return 
for which he sent gifts of equal value. The envoys 
remained at the capital for five months, and then 
returned to the island by the way they had come, 
hearing to their sovereign this message from King 
Asoka: 'I have taken refuge in the Buddha, the 
Law, and the Order; I have avowed myself a lay 
disciple of the doctrine of the son of the Bakyaa 
Imbue your mind also with faith in this Triad, in 
the highest religion of the Jina; take refuge in the 

After the close of the Third Council, which remained 
in session for nine months, Tishya the son of Moggali 
resolved that the law of Buddha should be communi- 
cated to foreign countries, and dispatched missionaries 
to Kashmir and Gandhara; to Mahisaniandala (My- 
sore) ; to Vanavasi (North Kanara) ; to Aparantaka 
(coast north of Bombay) ; to Maharashtra ; to the 
Yavana country (on the north-western frontier) ; to 
the mountain regions of the Himalaya ; to Suvarna- 
bhumi (Pegu); and to Ceylon. 


The mission to Ceylon consisted of Prince Mahendra 
and five colleagues, of whom one was Sumana, his 
sister's son. 

Mahendra resolved, with the king's permission, to 
visit his mother and her relations on his way to 
Ceylon, and devoted six months to this purpose. 

He found his mother at her home in Vedisagiri, 
and, having been received with great joy, was ac- 
commodated in the splendid monastery at that place 
which she had erected 1 . The preaching of Mahendra 
converted Bhandu, a grandnephew of his mother. 
After this event Mahendra lingered for another month, 
and then with his companions, to whom Bhandu 
attached himself, rose aloft into the air, and flying, 
1 as flies the king of swans,' arrived in Ceylon, and 
alighted upon the Missa mountain. 

The first discourse pronounced by the leader of 
the mission converted the king, with forty thousand 
of his followers. The princess Anula, with five 
hundred of her attendants, desired to enter the Order, 
but was told that the male missionaries had no power 
to ordain females, who, however, might be ordained by 
the princess Sanghamitra. 

The king of Ceylon, after due deliberation, again 
dispatched his nephew to King Asoka, with instruc- 
tions to bring back Sanghamitra and a branch of the 
sacred bo-tree. King Asoka, although grieving sorely 
at the separation from his beloved daughter, gave his 

1 The allusion seems to be to the splendid buildings at Sanchi, 
about five miles south-west from Besnagar. 

2r4 A SDK A 

consent to her deputation to Ceylon, and proceeded 
with much ceremony to sever a branch of the holy 

The severance was effected, signalized by many 
miracles, and the envoys, accompanied by Sanghamitra, 
were dispatched to the port of Tamalipti, escorted by 
an army commanded by King Asoka in person. 

'The vessel in which the fo-tree was embarked 
briskly dashed through the water; and in the g 
ocean, through the circumference of a League, the 
waxes were stilled ; flowers of the five different colours 
blossomed around it. and various melodies of music 
rang in the air.' The holy branch, thus miraculously 
wafted to the shore of the island, was received with 
due honour, and was planted in the MahAmegha garden, 
which tin- king had dedicated to the use of the Order. 
The branch threw off eight vigorous shoots, which 
were distributed and planted in as man}- localities. 

In those days also the king of Ceylon built for 
Mahendra tie' Bfahavihara, the first monastery of the 
island, and the construction of the Ghetiyagiri (Mihin- 
tale) monastery followed soon after. 

The princess Anula, in company with five hundred 
virgins and five hundred women of the palace, was 
duly ordained as a nun by Sanghamitra, and straight- 
way attained the rank of Arahat. The king erected 
a nunnery for Sanghamitra, who there abode in peace, 
until she died in the fifty-ninth year after her 
ordination, that being the ninth year of the reign of 
the Ceylonese King Uttiya. Her brother Mahendra 


had passed away in the previous year, while observing 
the sixtieth ' retreat ' since his ordination. 

While King Asoka was engaged in the festivals 
connected with the dispatch of the branch of the bo- 
tree, another mission, headed by his grandson Sumana, 
arrived from Ceylon to beg for relics to be enshrined 
in the great stilpa by the island king. The request 
of this second mission also was granted by King 
Asoka, who bestowed upon his ally a dishful of holy 
relics, to which Sakra, lord of the Devas, added the 
right collar-bone of Buddha, extracted from the 
Chulamani stilpa. The relics were received with 
extreme honour, and enshrined with due ceremony in 
the Thuparama stilpa, the moment being marked by 
a terrific earthquake. Witnessing this miracle, the 
people were converted in crowds, and the king's 
younger brother joined the Order, which in those 
days received an accession of thirty thousand monks. 


When, as has been related, the heretics waxed 
great in numbers and wrought confusion in the 
Church, so that for seven years the rite of confession 
and other solemn rites remained in abeyance, King 

1 See especially Dipavamsa, i. 25 ; v. 55 ; vii. 37, 41, 56-59. 
The dates do not seem all to agree, but the intention evidently 
is to place the Third Council in 236, and the Second Council in 
118 Anno Buddhae, the two intervals of 118 years being exactly 
equal. One of the Chinese dates for Asoka is 118 A. B. (I-tsing, 
ed. Takakusu, p. 14). 

216 ASOKA 

Asoka determined that the disorder .should cease, and 
sent a minister to the Asokarama to compel the 
monks to resume the services. The minister, baring 
gone there, assembled the monks and proclaimed the 
royal commands. The holy men replied that they 
could not perform the services while the heretics 
remained Thereupon the minister, exceeding his 
instructions, with his own hand smote oh 1 ' the heads 
of several of the contumacious ecclesiastics as tiny 
sat in convocation. The king's brother Tishya inter- 
fered, and prevented further violence. 

The king was profoundly horrified and greatly 
alarmed af the rash act of his minister, and sought ab- 
solution. In accordance with the advice of the clergy, 
the aged Tishya, bod of Hoggali, was summoned from 
his distant retreat, and conveyed by boat down the 
Ganges to the capital, where he was received by the 
king with extraordinary honour and reverence. 

Asoka, desiring to test the supernatural powers of 
the saint., begged that a miracle might be performed, 
and specially requested that an earthquake confined 
to a limited space might be produced. The saint 
placed a chariot, a horse, a man, and a vessel filled 
with water, one on each side of a square space, exactly 
on the boundary lines, and produced an earthquake 
which caused the half of each object within the 
boundary line to quake, while the other half of each 
remained unshaken. Satisfied by this display of 
power, Asoka inquired if the sacrilegious murder of 
the priests by the minister must be accounted as the 


king's sin. The saint ruled that where there is no 
wilful intention, there is no sin, and, accordingly, 
absolved Asoka, whom he instructed fully in the 

The king commanded that all the priests in India, 
without exception, should be assembled, and taking his 
seat by the side of his spiritual director, examined 
each priest individually as to his faith. The saint 
decided that the doctrine of the Vaibadyavadin 
school was the true primitive teaching of the master, 
and all dissenters were expelled, to the number of 
sixty thousand \ A thousand orthodox priests of 
holy character were then selected to form a convoca- 
tion or Council. To these assembled priests, Tishya, 
son of Moggali, recited the treatise called Kathavatthu 
in order to dissipate doubts on points of faith 2 . The 
Council, following the procedure of the First Council 
at Rajagriha and the Second Council at Vaisali, recited 

1 Mahavamsa, ch. v. The classifications of the Buddhist 
schools vary much. I-tsing (pp. xxiii, 7) says that all Ceylon 
belonged to the Arya-sthavira-nikdya, which had three subdivi- 
sions. Tibetan authorities (Rockhill, pp. 187 seqq.) make two 
main divisions of Buddhists, (i) Sthavira, (ii) Mahdsanghika. 
The Sarvdstivddin school was a subdivision of the Sthavira, and 
the Vaibddyavddin was a sect of the Sarvdstivddin. The 
Vaibddyavddin sect again was subdivided into four sections, 
Mahisdsaka, Dharmaguptaka, Tamrasatiya, and Kdsyapiya. This 
explains how Fa-hien was able to obtain in Ceylon a copy of the 
Vinaya according to the Mahisdsaka school (ch. xl). 

The legends have probably been much influenced by sectarian 

2 Tumour's translation is corrected by Wijesinha. 

218 ASOKA 

and verified the whole body of the scriptures, and, 
after a session lasting nine months, dispersed. At 
the conclusion of the Council the earth quaked, as if 
to say ■ Well done,' beholding the re-establishment of 
religion. Tishya, the son of Moggali, was then 
seventy-two yean of age. 


One day, Tishya, the younger brother of Asoka, 
and Vicegerent of the empire, happened to be in 
a forest, and watched a herd <>f elk at play. The 
thought occurred to him thai when «'lks browsing in 
the forest divert themselves, there Beems to be no 

good reason why monks well lodged and well fed in 

monasteries should not amuse themselves. Coming 
home, the vicegerent told his thoughts to the king, 
who, in order to make him understand the reason why, 
conferred upon him the sovereignty for the space of 
seven days, saying, ' Prince, govern the empire for 
seven days, at the end of which I shall put thee to 
death.' At the close of the seventh day the king 
asked the prince: — Why art thou grown so wasted V 
He replied, ' V>y reason of the horror of death.' The 
king rejoined, 'Child, thou hast ceased to amuse thyself, 
because thou think est that in seven days thou wilt be 
put to death. These monks are meditating without 
ceasing on death; how then can they engage in 
frivolous diversions ? ' l 

1 Compare the legend of Mahendra in chapter vii, post. 


The prince understood, and became a convert. 
Some time afterwards he was on a hunting expedition 
in the forest, when he saw the saint Mahadharmara- 
kshita, a man of perfect piety and freed from the 
bonds of sin, sitting under a tree, and being fanned 
with a branch by an elephant. The prince, beholding 
this sight, longed for the time when he might become 
even as that saint and dwell at peace in the forest. 
The saint, in order to incline the heart of the prince 
unto the faith, soared into the air and alighted on the 
surface of the water of the Asokarama tank, wherein 
he bathed, while his robes remained poised in the air. 
The prince was so delighted with this miracle that he 
at once resolved to become a monk, and begged the 
king for permission to receive ordination. 

The king, being unwilling to thwart his pious 
desire, himself led the prince to the monastery, where 
ordination was conferred by the saint Mahadharma- 
rakshita. At the same time one hundred thousand 
other persons were ordained, and no man can tell 
the number of those who became monks by reason 
of the example set by the prince. 


The branch of the holy 60-tree, brought to Ceylon 
in the manner above related, was dispatched in the 
eighteenth year of the reign of Asoka the Pious, and 
planted in the Mahameghavana garden in Ceylon. 

In the twelfth year after that event, Asandhimitra, 

220 ASOKA 

the beloved queen of Asoka, who had shared his de- 
votion to Buddhism, died. In the fourth year after 
her decease, the king, prompted by sensual passion, 
raised the princess Tishyarakshitft to the dignity of 
queen-consort. She was young and vain, and very 
sensible of her personal charms. The king's devotion 
to the 00-tree Beemed to her to be a slight to her 
attractions, and in the fourth year after her elevation 
her jealousy induced her to make an attempt to 
destroy the holy tree by art magic. The attempt 
failed. In the fourth year after that event, King 
Asoka the Pious fulfilled the lot of mortality, having 
reigned thirty-seven years 1 . 

1 Compare the Legend of the 'Dotage of Asoka' in chaptei 
vii. post. According to the Tibetan tradition, Aboka reigned 
for fifty-four yean (Rockhill, p. 233). 


The Indian Legends op Asoka 

the lineage and family of asoka 

(i) King Bimbisara reigned at Rajagriha. His 
son was (2) Ajatasatru, whose son was (3) Udayi- 
bhadra, whose son was (4) Munda, whose son was 
(5) Kakavarnin, whose son was (6) Sahalin, whose son 
was (7) Tulakuchi, whose son was (8) Mahamandala, 
whose son was (9) Prasenajit, whose son was (10) 
Nanda, whose son was (11) Bindusara. 

King Bindusara reigned at Pataliputra, and had 
a son named Susima. 

A certain Brahman of Champa had a lovely daughter. 
A prophecy declared that she was destined to be the 
mother of two sons, of whom one would become uni- 
versal monarch, and the other would attain the goal 
of the life of a recluse. The Brahman, seeking the ful- 
filment of the prophecy, succeeded in introducing his 
daughter into the palace, but the jealousy of the queens 
debarred her from the royal embraces, and assigned to 

1 The genealogy as given in the text is from the prose Asokd- 
vaddna in the Divydvaddna (Burnouf, Introduction, pp. 319 
seqq.). The reader will observe that Chandragupta is omitted, 
and that Bindusara, the father of Asoka, is represented as being 
the son of Nanda. The metrical Asokdvaddna (Rajendralala 
Mitra, Nepalese Buddhist Literature, pp. 6-17) substitutes Maht- 
pala for Ajatasatru, and exhibits other minor variations. 

222 ASOKA 

her the menial duties of a barber. After some time 
the girl managed to explain to the king that she was 
no barber, but the daughter of a Brahman. When 
the king understood thai she belonged to a caste with 
a member of which he could honourably consort, lie at 
once took her into favour and made her chief <|iieen. 
In due course, the Brahman's daughter, whose name 
was Snbhadrangi, bore to the king two sons, the elder 
named Asoka. and the younger named Vigatasoka. 

The ascetic Pingala Yatsajiva, when consulted by 
King Bindusara concerning the destiny of the two 
boys, feared to tell his sovereign the truth, because 
Asoka was rough-looking and displeasing in the sight 
of hid father: but he frankly told Queen Subha- 
drangi that her son Asoka was destined for the 

h came to pass that King Bindusara desired to 
besiege Taxila. which was in rebellion. The king 
ordered hifl despised son Asoka to undertake the siege, 
and yet would not supply him with chariots or the 
ne.-dful munitions of war. Ill-supplied as he was, the 
prince obediently started to carry out the kings 
orders, whereupon the earth opened, and from her 
bosom supplied all his wants. When Asoka with his 
army approached Taxila, the citizens came forth to 
meet him, protesting that their quarrel was only with 
oppressive ministers, not with the king or the king's 
son. Taxila and the kingdom of the Svasas made 
their submission to the prince, who in due course 
returned to the capital. 


It came to pass that one day Prince Susima, the 
king's eldest son, was coming into the palace from the 
garden when he playfully threw his glove at the head 
of the prime minister Khallataka. The minister was 
deeply offended, and from that day engaged in a con- 
spiracy with five hundred privy councillors to exclude 
Susima, and to place Asoka on the throne. 

The people of Taxila again revolted, and Prince 
Susima, who was deputed to reduce them to obedi- 
ence, failed in his task. King Bindusara, who was 
then old and ill, desired to send Asoka to Taxila, 
and to recall Susima, that he might take up the suc- 

The ministers, however, contrived to exclude the 
elder prince, and to secure the throne for Asoka, on 
whose head the gods themselves placed the crown, 
at the moment when his father expired. Susima 
marched against Pataliputra, to assert his rights 
and expel the usurper; but Asoka and his minister 
Radhagupta obtained the services of naked giants, 
who successfully guarded the gates, and by stratagem 
Susima was inveigled, so that he fell into a ditch full 
of burning fuel, and there miserably perished. 


One day, when five hundred of his ministers ven- 
tured to resist the royal will, Asoka, transported with 
rage, drew his sword, and with his own hand cut off 
the heads of all the offenders. 

224 AS OK A 

Another day, the women of the palace, whom Asoka's 
rough features failed to please, mocked him by break- 
ing oft' the leaves of an asoka tree in the garden, 
Tin- king, when he heard of the incident, caused five 
hundred women to be burnt alive. 

The ministers, horrified at these acts of cruelty, 
entreated the king not to defile his royal hands with 
blood, but to appoint an executioner to carry out 

The king accepted this advice, and a man named 
Chandagirika— a wretch of unexampled cruelty, who 
loved to torture animals, and had slain his father and 
mother — was sought out and appointed Chief Execu- 
tioner, For his use the king caused to be built a 
prison, which had a most attractive exterior, so that 
men might be tempted to enter it, and thus sutler all 
the tortures of hell which awaited them within; for 
the king had commanded that no man who entered 
this prison should leave it alive. 

One day, a holy ascetic named Balapandita 1 un- 
wittingly entered the gate, and was instantly seized 
by the jailer. The holy man, though given seven 
days respite, was at the end of the term of grace 
ruthlessly cast into a seething cauldron of filth, 
beneath which a great fire was kindled. The cruel 
jailer, looking in, beheld the saint, seated on a lotus, 
and unscathed by fire. The miracle having been 
reported to the palace, the king himself came to see it, 
and being converted by the sight and the preaching 
1 Samudra in the metrical version. 


of the holy man, embraced the true religion and for- 
sook the paths of wickedness. 

The prison was demolished, and the jailer was 
burnt alive. 

The above legend from the Asokdvaddna, which is 
given with further details by Hiuen Tsang (Beal, ii. 
86), places the 'prison' or 'hell' at Pataliputra the 

Another form of the legend, which is merely re- 
ferred to by Hiuen Tsang without comment, places 
the ' hell ' at Ujjain in Malwa (Beal, ii. 271). 

The conversion of the king, according to Hiuen 
Tsang, was due to the great saint Upagupta, whom he 
met after the destruction of the ' hell.' With the aid 
of Upagupta, King Asoka summoned the genii and 
commanded them to build stilpas throughout the land 
for the reception of the relics of Buddha's body, which 
had been taken out of the eight dtipas where they had 
originally been enshrined after the cremation of the 
Sakya sage. At the moment of a solar eclipse the 
genii, in obedience to the commands of the king and 
the saint, simultaneously deposited the relics in all 
the stupas. 

The Avaddna story is that when King Asoka 
desired to distribute the sacred relics of the body of 
Buddha among the eighty-four thousand stilpas 
erected by himself, he opened the 3t4pa of the Urn, 
wherein King Ajatasatru had enshrined the cremation 
relics collected from seven of the eight original dupas. 
The eighth, that at Ramagrama, was defended by the 

226 ASOKA 

guardian' Nagas, who would not allow it to Ixj opened* 

The relics thus withdrawn from the IStiLpa of the 
Urn were distributed among eighty-four thousand 
tt4pa8 t ' resplendent as the autumn clouds,' which were 
erected in a single day by the descendant of the 
Mauryas. 'The worshipful, the fortunate Maury a 
caused the erection of all these dupas for the benefit of 
created beings ; formerly he was called on earth Asoka 
the Wicked, but this good work has earned for him 
the name of Asoka the Pious V 

The metrical Avaddna is still more extravagant than 
the prose form of the tale, and alleges that 3.5 10 
millions of stdpas were erected at the request of the 
people of Taxila. and that ten millions were erected 
by the Yakshas on the shores of the sea. 

Till'. PILGRIM A'. i: OF &80KA 

Having erected the eighty-four thousand shlpas, 
King Asoka expressed a desire to visit the holy pi. 
of his religion. By the advice of his counsellors he 
sent for the saint Upagupta, son of Gupta the 
perfumer. Upagupta had been in accordance with 
prophecy born a century after the death of Buddha, 
and, when summoned by the king, was dwelling on 
Mount Urumunda in the Natabhatika forest near 

The saint accepted the royal invitation, and, accom- 

1 This passage proves that the hero of the Asokavadana is 
Asoka Maury a. 


panied by eighteen thousand holy men, travelled in 
state by boat down the Jumna and Ganges to Pa tali - 
putra, where he was received with the utmost 
reverence and honour K 

The king said: 'I desire to visit all the places 
where the Venerable Buddha stayed, to do honour 
unto them, and to mark each with an enduring 
memorial for the instruction of the most remote 
posterity.' The saint approved of the project, and 
undertook to act as guide. Escorted by a mighty 
army the monarch visited all the holy places in order. 

The first place visited was the Lumbini Garden. 
Here Upagupta said: 'In this spot, great king, the 
Venerable One was born 2 ' ; and added : ' Here is the 
first monument consecrated in honour of the Buddha, 
the sight of whom is excellent. Here, the moment 
after his birth, the recluse took seven steps upon the 

The king bestowed a hundred thousand gold pieces 
on the people of the place, and built a stupa. He 
then passed on to Kapilavastu. 

The royal pilgrim next visited the Bodhi-tree at 
Bodh Gaya, and there also gave a largess of a 
hundred thousand gold pieces, and built a ckaitya. 
Rishipatana (Sarnath) near Benares, where Gautama 
had 'turned the wheel of the law,' and Kusinagara, 
where the Teacher had passed away, were also visited 

1 Compare the story of Tishya, son of Moggali, in the ' Legend 
of the Third Church Council ' in chapter vi, p. 215, above. 

2 Compare the Rummindei pillar inscription in chapter v. 

P 2 

228 ASOKA 

with similar observances. At Sravasti the pilgrims 
did reverence to the Jetavana monastery, where 
Gautama had SO long dwelt and taught, and to the 
etdpae of his disciples, Sariputra, Maudgalayana, and 
Maha Kasyapa, Bui when the king visited the ttt&pa 
of Vakkula, ho gave only one copper coin, inasmnch 
as Vakkula had met with raw obstacles in the path 
of holiness, and had done little good to his fellow 
creatures. At the Btdpa of Ananda, the faithful 
attendant of Gautama, the royal gift amounted to 
six million gold pieces. 


Vitasoka, the kings brother 1 , was an adherent of 
thf Tirthyas, who reproached the Buddhist monks 
as being men who loved pleasure and feared pain. 
Asoka's (Units to convert his brother were met by 
tin- retort that the king was merely a tool in the 
hands of the monks. The king therefore resolved 
to effect his brother's conversion by stratagem. 

At his instigation the ministers tricked Vitasoka 
into the assumption of the insignia of royalty. The 
king when informed of what had happened feigned 
great anger, and threatened his brother with instant 
death. Ultimately he was persuaded to grant the 
offender seven days' respite, and to permit him to 
exercise sovereign power during those seven days. 
During this period the fear of death so wrought upon 

1 Vitasoka = Vigatasoka. 


the mind of Vitasoka that he embraced the doctrine 
of Buddha, in which he was instructed by the holy 
Sthavira Yasas. With difficulty the king was per- 
suaded by the Sthavira Yasas l to grant to his brother 
permission to become a monk. In order to initiate 
the novice gradually into the habits of the life of a 
mendicant friar, Asoka prepared a hermitage for him 
within the palace grounds. From this hermitage 
Vitasoka withdrew, first to the Kukkutarama mon- 
astery, and afterwards to Videha (Tirhut), where 
he attained to the rank of a saint (arahat). When 
Vitasoka, clad in rags, returned to the palace, he was 
received with great honour, and was induced to exhibit 
his supernatural powers. He then again withdrew to 
a distant retreat beyond the frontier, where he fell ill. 
Asoka sent him medicine, and he recovered. 

In those days it happened that a devoted adherent of 
the Brahman ascetics threw down and broke a statue of 
Buddha at Pundra Vardhana in Bengal. As a penalty 
for the sacrilege eighteen thousand inhabitants of 
that city were massacred in one day by order of 
Asoka. Some time after another fanatic at Pataliputra 
similarly overthrew a statue of Buddha. The persons 
concerned, with all their relatives and friends, were 

1 The Ceylonese Mahavamsa (ch. iv) represents the Sthavira 
Yasas (Yaso) as a leading personage at the Second or Vaisali 
Council in the reign of Kalasoka, or Asoka T. This fact is one 
of the many indications that Kalasoka is a fiction, and that no 
reliance can be placed on the accounts of any of the three 
church councils. 

230 ASOKA 

burned alive, and the king placed the price of &dindva 
on the head of every Brahman ical ascetic. 

Now, when the proclamation was published Vita- 
soka, clad in his beggar's garb, happened to be lodging 
for the night in the hut of a cowherd. The good wife, 
seeing the unkempt and dishevelled appearance of her 
guest, was convinced that he must be one of the 
proclaimed ascetics, and persuaded her husband to 
slay him in order to earn the reward The cowherd 
carried his victim's head to the king, who was horrified 
at the Bight, and was persuaded by his ministers to 
revoke the proclamation. Not only did he revoke the 
cruel proclamation, but he gave the world peace by 
ordaining that henceforth no one should be put to 
death l . 

In Fa-hien's version of the legend the brother of the 
king is anonymous. The pilgrim tells us that the 
younger brother of King Asoka lived the life of a 
recluse on the Vulture's Peak hill near Rajagriha, 
where he had attained to the rank of a saint (arhat). 
The king invited the recluse to the palace, but the 
invitation was declined. The king then promised 
that if his brother would accept the invitation, he 
would make a hill for him inside the city. ' Then 
the king, providing all sorts of meat and drink, 
invited the genii, and addressed them thus: "I beg 
you to accept my invitation for to-morrow ; but as 
there are no seats, I must request you each to bring 

1 The inscription? prove that Asoka did not abolish capital 


his own." On the morrow the great genii came, each 
one bringing with him a great stone, four or five paces 
square. After the feast, he deputed the genii to pile 
up their seats, and make a great stone mountain ; and 
at the base of the mountain with five great square 
stones to make a rock chamber, in length about $$ 
feet, and in breadth 11 feet, and in height 71 feet 
or so.' 

The same story is told by Hiuen Tsang in order to 
explain the origin of the stone dwelling which was 
still to be seen at Pataliputra in the seventh century 
A. D. 1 The name of Mahendra is given to the hermit- 
prince by Hiuen Tsang, who relates of him a legend, 
which may be compared with that of Vitasoka. The 
two stories have some points in common. 


King Asoka early in his reign had a half-brother, 
the son of his mother, who was younger than the king, 
and belonged to a noble family. The young man was 
extravagant, wasteful, and cruel in disposition. In his 
dress also he aped the royal costume. 

The indignation of the people became so great that 
the ministers ventured to remonstrate with the king, 

1 Beal, ii. 91. Major Waddell identifies Mahendra's Hill 
with the Bhikhna Pahari at Patna, on which the Nawab's 
palace stands, and states that the neighbouring muhalla, or 
ward, is called Mahendru. 

232 ASOKA 

and to say: 'Your majesty's brother in his pride 
assumes a dignity beyond his due. When the govern- 
ment is impartial, the subjects are contented; when 
the subjects are content, the sovereign is at peace. 
We desire that you should preserve the principles of 
government handed down to us by our fathers, and 
that you should deliver to justice the men who seek 
to change those principles.' 

Then King Asoka, weeping, addressed bis brother 
and said: 'J have inherited from my ancestors the 
luty of protecting my people; how is it that you, my 
own 1 n-ot lid-, have forgotten my affection and kind- 
ness 1 It is impossible for me at the very beginning 
o!' my reign to disregard the laws. If I punish you, 
1 dread the resentment of my .ancestors; if I pass over 
your transgressions, I dread the ill opinion of my 

The prince, bowing his lead, admitted his error, 
and begged for nothing more than a respite of seven 
• lays 1 , The king granted this request, and threw 
his brother into a dark dungeon, though he provided 
him with exquisite food and all other luxuries. At 
the end of the first day the guard cried out to the 
prisoner : ■ One day has gone ; six days are left.' By 
the time the sixth day had expired, the prisoner's 
repentance and discipline were complete. He attained 
at once to the rank of a saint (arahat), and feeling 
conscious of miraculous powers, ascended into the air. 

1 Compare the Ceylonese 'Story of Tishya, the Vicegerent' 
in chapter vi. p. 218, above. 


Asoka went in person to the dungeon, and told his 
brother that having now, contrary to expectation, 
attained the highest degree of holiness he might 
return to his place. Mahendra replied that he had 
lost all taste for the pleasures of the world, and 
desired to live in solitude. Asoka consented, but 
pointed out that it was unnecessary for the prince 
to retire to the mountains, as a hermitage could be 
constructed at the capital. The king then caused 
the genii to build a stone house, as already related. 

Mahendra, after his conversion, journeyed to the 
south of India, and built a monastery in the delta of 
the Kaveri (Cauvery), of which the ruins were still 
visible a thousand years later *. 

He is also related to have made use of his super- 
natural powers to pass through the air to Ceylon, 
in which island he spread the knowledge of the true 
law, and widely diffused the doctrine bequeathed 
to his disciples by the Master. From the time of 
Mahendra, the people of Ceylon, who had been ad- 
dicted to a corrupt form of religion, forsook their 
ancient errors and heartily accepted the truth. The 
conversion of Ceylon, according to Hiuen Tsang, took 
place one hundred years after the death of Buddha 2 . 

1 Beal, ii. 231. 

2 Beal, ii. 246. Compare the legends of the Mahavamsa 
and Dipavamsa. Hiuen Tsang, like the Asokdvadchia, placed 
Asoka Maurya a century after Buddha, the date assigned by the 
Ceylonese legend to Kalasoka. 

234 AS OK A 


In the seventh century A. D. pilgrims were shown 
a stiXpa at Taxila, which was said to have been built 
by Asoka to mark the spot where the eyes of his 
beloved son KunAla were fcorn out. The story of 
Kunala is to the following effect. 

After the death of his faithful consort Asandhi- 
mitrtt, King Asoka, late in life, married Tishyara- 
kshita, a dissolute and unprincipled youn^ woman. 
She east amorous glances on her stepson Kunala, 
her worthy predecessor's ^<»n. who was famous for 
the beauty of 1 lis .-yes. The virtuous prince rejected 
with horror the advances made by his stepmother, 
who thru became filled witli 'tin- spite of contemned 
beauty 1 ,' and changed her hot love into bitter hate. 
In pursuance of a deep-laid scheme for the destruc- 
tion of him who by his virtue had put her vice to 
shame, the queen with honied words persuaded 
the king to depute Kunala to the government of 
distant Taxila. 

The prince obediently accepted the honourable 
commission, and when departing was warned by his 
father to verify orders received, which, if genuine, 
would be sealed with an impression of the king's 
teeth 2 . The queen bided her time, with ever-growing 

1 Spretae in iuria forma e (Vergil). 

2 Mr. Beal has cited an exact English parallel in the verses 
describing the gift of lands to the Rawdon family, a- quoted in 
Burke's Peerage, s. v. Hastings :— 


hatred. After the lapse of some months she wrote 
a dispatch, addressed to the viceroy's ministers at 
Taxila, directing them immediately on receipt of the 
orders to put out the eyes of the viceroy, Prince 
Kunala, to lead him and his wife into the mountains, 
and to there leave them to perish. 

She sealed the dispatch with royal red wax, and, 
when the king was asleep, furtively stamped the wax 
with the impression of his teeth, and sent off the orders 
with all speed to Taxila. The ministers who received 
the orders knew not what to do. The prince, noticing 
their confusion, compelled them to explain. The min- 
isters wished to compromise by detaining the prince in 
custody, pending a reference to the capital. But the 
prince would not permit of any delay, and said : ' My 
father, if he has ordered my death, must be obeyed ; 
and the seal of his teeth is a sure sign of the correct- 
ness of the orders. No mistake is possible.' He then 
commanded an outcaste wretch to pluck out his eyes. 
The order was obeyed, and the prince, accompanied by 
his faithful wife, wandered forth in sightless misery 
to beg his bread. 

In the course of their weary wanderings they arrived 
at Pataliputra. ' Alas,' cried the blind man, ' what 

' I, William, king, the third of my reign, 
Give to Paulyn Rawdon, Hope and Hopetowne, 

And in token that this thing is sooth, 

I bit the whyt wax with my tooth. 

Before Meg, Mawd, and Margery, 

And my third son Henry.' (Ind. Ant. ix. 86.) 

236 A SDK A 

pain T suffer from cold and hunger. I was a prince; 
I am a beggar, Would that 1 could make myself 

known, and get redrew i'<>r 1 1 10 false accusations 
brought against me.' He managed bo penetrate into 

an inner court of the palace, where he lifted up his 
voice and wept, and, to the sound of a lute, sang a song 
full of sadne 

The king in an upper chamber heard the strains. 
and thinking that he recognised the voice and touch 
as those of his son, sent for the minstrel. The king, 
when he beheld his sightless son, was overwhelmed 

with grief, and inquired by whose contrivance all 

this misery had come ahout. The prince humhly 
replied ! ' In truth, for lack of filial piety I have thus 
been punished by Heaven. I >n such and such a day 

suddenly came a loving order, and I, having no means 
of excusing myself, dared not shrink from the punish- 

The king, knowing in his heart that Queen Tishyara- 
kshita was guilty of the crime, without further inquiry 
caused her to he burnt alive, and visited with condign 
punishment every person, high or low, who had any 
ahata in the out rag.-. The officials were some dismissed, 
some banished, some executed. The common people 
were, according to one account, massacred, and, ac- 
cording to another, transported across the Himalayas 
to the deserts of Khotan l . 

1 Beal, i. 143. ii. 310; Burnouf. p. 360. Compare the wild 
Tibetan legends about the introduction of Buddhism into Khotan 
in Rockhill, TJie Life of the Buddha, pp. 232 seqq. These 


In those days a great saint named Ghosha dwelt 
in the monastery by the holy tree of Mahabodhi. To 
him the king brought Kunala, and prayed that his 
son might receive his sight. The saint commanded 
that on the morrow a great congregation should 
assemble to hear his preaching of the Law, and that 
each person should bring a vessel to receive his tears. 
A vast multitude of men and women assembled, and 
there was not one of those who heard the sermon but 
was moved to tears, which fell into the vessels provided. 

The saint collected the tears in a golden vase, and 
said these words : ' The doctrine which I have ex- 
pounded is the most mysterious of Buddha's teaching; 
if that exposition is not true, if there is error in 
what I have said, then let things remain as they are ; 
but, if what I have said is true and free from error, 
let this man, after washing his eyes with these tears, 
receive his sight.' 

Whereupon Kunala washed in the tears and received 
his sight. 


Tishyarakshita, queen of King Asoka, in pursuance 
of her incestuous passion for her stepson, Prince Kunala. 
who repulsed her advances, resolved to avenge herself, 
and, in order to accomplish her purpose, took advan- 

legends mention the saint Yasas as the minister of Asoka the 
Pious. The story of Kunala is folklore. Compare the legend 
of Phaedra and Hippolytus, and Jataka No. 472 (MaMpaduma) 
in the translation by Mr. Rouse, who cites other Indian parallels 
(vol. iv, p. 117). 

238 ASOKA 

tage of the king's Bufferings from a dangerous and 
apparently incurable disease, to acquire complete con- 
trol over his mind, and for some days she was granted 
unrestrained use of the sovereign power, 

Asoka, believing bis malady to be incurable, gave 
the order: 'Send for Kunfda ; I wish to place him on 
the throne. What use is life to me ? ' Tishx arakshita 
hearing these words, thought to herself: 'If Kunala 
ascends the throne, I am lost.' Accordingly she said 
to King Asoka: ' I undertake to restore you to health. 
bat a necessary condition is that you forbid all physi- 
cians to have access to the palace.' The king com- 
plied with her request, and she enjoined everybody to 
bring to her any person, man or woman, who might be 
Buffering from the sane- malady as the king. 

Now it happened that a man of the shepherd caste 
was suffering from the sane- malady. His wife ex- 
plained his case to a physician, who promised to 
prescribe a suitable remedy after examining the 
patient. The man then consulted the physician, who 
brought him to Queen Tishyarakshita. She had him 
conveyed to a secret place, where he was put to death. 
When his body was opened she perceived in his 
stomach a huge worm, which had deranged the bodily 
functions. She applied pounded pepper and ginger 
without effect, but when the worm was touched with 
an onion, he died immediately, and passed out of the 
intestines. The queen then begged the king to eat an 
onion and so recover his health. The king replied : 
' Queen, I am a Kshatriya ; how can I eat an onion ? ' 


' My lord/ answered the queen, ' you should swallow it 
merely as physic in order to save your life.' The 
king then ate the onion, and the worm died, passing 
out of the intestines 1 . 


The king resolved to give a thousand millions 
of gold pieces to the Master's service, and when far 
advanced in years had actually given nine hundred 
and sixty millions. In the hope that the vow would 
be completed before he died he daily sent great treasures 
of silver and gold to the Kukkutarama monastery at 
the capital. In those days Sampadi, the son of Kunala 2 , 
was heir-apparent. To him the ministers pointed out 
that the king was ruining himself by his extravagance, 
and would, if permitted to continue it, be unable to 
resist the attacks of other monarchs or to protect the 

The prince, therefore, forbade the treasurer to com- 
ply with the king's demands. Asoka, unable to obtain 

1 Fa-hien (ch. xvi) notes that the inhabitants of Gangetic 
India did not 'eat garlic or onions, with the exception of 
Chandalas (outcastes) only.' The prejudice exists to this day. 
The high-caste people perceive in onions a fanciful resemblance 
to flesh meat. This story is from the Kunala section of the 
Divydvaddna in Burnouf, ' Introduction,' p. 133. 

2 The Jain legends represent Sampadi as a great patron of the 
Jain church. Nothing authentic is known about him. The 
legend of Asoka's dotage is given by Burnouf, pp. 381 seqq. 
Compare the Ceylonese story of ' The Last Days of Asoka ' in 
chapter vi, ante, p. 219. 

240 A SDK A 

supplies from the treasury, began to give away the 
plate which furnished the royal fable, first the gold, 
next the silver, and finally the iron. When all the 
metallic ware had been exhausted, the ministers fur- 
nished the king's table with earthenware. Then Asoka 
demanded of them. 'Who is king of this country'?' 
The ministers did obeisance and respectfully replied : 
* Your majesty is king.' Asoka burst int<> tears, and 
Cried: 'Why do you say from kindness what is not true 7 
I am fallen from my royal state. Save this half-apple 1 

there is nought of which 1 can dispo overeign.' 

Then the king sent the half -apple to the Knkkutarama 

monastery, to he divided among the monks, who should 
be addressed in this ■wise: i Behold, this is my last gift; 
to this pass have come the riches of the emperor of 

India. My royalty and my power have departed; de- 
prived of health, of physic, and of physicians, to me no 
support is left save that of the Assembly of the saints. 
Bat this fruit, which Is offered with the intent that 
the whole Assembly may partake of it, my last gift.' 

Once more King Asoka asked his minister Radha- 
gnpta: 'Who is sovereign of this country 1 ?' The 
minister did obeisance and respectfully replied : ' Sire, 
your majesty is sovereign of this country.' 

King Asoka, recovering his composure, responded in 
verse, and said: — 

This earth, encinctured by its sapphire zone, 
This earth, bedecked with gleaming jewels rare, 

1 Amalaka fruit, Emblica officinalis. 


This earth, of hills the everlasting throne, 
This earth, of all creation mother fair, 
I give to the Assembly. 

The blessing which attends such gift be mine; 
Not Indra's halls nor Brahma's courts I crave, 
Nor yet the splendours which round monarchs shine, 
And pass away, like rushing Ganga's wave, 
Abiding not a moment. 

With faith unchangeable, which nought can shake, 
This gift of Earth's immeasurable sphere 
I to the Saints' Assembly freely make; 
And self-control I crave, of boons most dear, 
A good which changeth never 1 . 

King Asoka, having thus spoken, sealed the deed of 
gift, and presently fulfilled the law of mortality. 

The forty millions of gold pieces which yet remained 
to complete King Asoka's vow for the gift of a thousand 

1 According to Fa-hien (chapter xxvii), this gift of the 
empire was recorded in an inscription on a stone pillar to the 
south of Patahputra. The site of the pillar has not been 
identified with certainty. The speech of Asoka in prose is as 
follows : — 

' This earth, which ocean enwraps in a glorious garment of 
sapphire, this earth whereof the face is adorned with mines 
of diverse jewels, this earth, which supports all creatures and 
Mount Madara, I give to the Assembly. 

' As the reward of this good deed I desire not to dwell in the 
palace of Indra, nor yet in that of Brahma, nor do I in any wise 
desire the felicity of kingship, which, quicker even than run- 
ning water, passes away and is gone. 

'The reward which I crave for the perfect faith whereby 
I make this gift is that self-control which the saints honour, 
and which is a good exempt from change.' 


242 A SDK A 

millions, wov expended by the ministers in the 
redemption of the earth, and BampadS was placed 
upon the vacant throne. He was succeeded by his 
son Yrihaspati, who was succeeded in order by 
Vrishasena, Pushyadharma, and Pushpamitra. 


By the kindness of Dr. Bloch and of Major Alcock, I. M.S., 
Superintendent of th<' Indian Museum, Calcutta, I am able 
to give the following list of <'asts of the Asoka inscrip- 
tions in the Indian Museum: — 

I. The Fourteen Rock Edicts and Kalinga Edicts: — 
Girnar, Dhauli, Jaugada, K.-dsi. Shahbazgarhi, Mansahra 
(except t lie fourth portion, containing Edict XIII). 

II. Minor Hock Edicts :- -Sahasram and Siddapura (ex- 
cept version No. Ill, from Jatinga-llainesvara). 

III. ( lave Inscriptions : — The three Barabar Hill records of 
Atoka and the three Nagarjuni Hill records of Da>aratha. 

IV. The Tarai Pillars: — Nigliva and Ruinmindei 

V. Pillar Edicts and Minor Pillar Edicts: — Allahabad 
(including the Queen's and Kausambi Edicts), Lauriya- 
A raraj, Lauriyi-Nandangarh (Navandgarh). 

The original Bhabia Inscription is preserved in the rooms 
of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. 

Casts of some of the inscriptions also exist in the Provin- 
cial Museum. Lucknow. 


Abhisheka, defined, 22. 
Achaemenian empire, 140; 

architecture, 140; records, 141. 
Admiralty Board, 102. 
Afghanistan, 15, 75, 76, 80, 

Agents, the king's, 181 n. } 182, 

185 n. 
Agni Brahma, nephew of Asoka, 

Ajatasatru, king. 
Ajlvikas, 32, 54, 60, 62, 70, 73, 

134, 198, 201. 
Akbar, 84, 138, 166 n. 
Alexander (1) the Great, 11, 13, 

68, 72, 75 ; (2) king of Epirus, 

43; 73, 174- 

Alexandria, bas-reliefs of, 143. 

Allahabad, pillar and inscrip- 
tions, 54, 119, 146, 196, 197. 

Almoner's department, 190 n. 

Almsgiving, 31, 65, 169. 

Alphabet, see Script. 

Amazonian guards, 89. 

Ambhi = Omphis, q. v. 

Amitraghata (-khada), title, 

^ i8n., 72. 

Ananda, stupas of, 40, 41 n. } 

Andhras, 42, 175. 

Animal fights, 90. 

Animals, regulations concerning. 
56, 186. 

Ant, queen, eaten, 187. 

Antigonos, (1) king of Syria, 14; 
(2) Gonatas, king of Macedonia, 

43, 74, 174- 
Antiochos, (1) Soter, 18, 72 ; 

(2) Theos, 43, 73, 74, 76, 157, 

Antipater, 11, T2. 

Anuia, princess, 213, 214. 
Aparantaka, coast N. of Bombay, 

44, 212. 
Arachosia, 11, 15, 16, 75, 76 n. 
Arahat - Buddhist saint, 173 11. 
Aramaic script, 128, 139. 
Archipelago, Indian, Buddhism 

in, 46. 
Architecture, of Asoka, 108, 

Aria, 11, 15, 75. 
Arms, Indian, 103, 104 n. 
Army, organization of, 101-3. 
ArthaMstra, ijn., 83 n., 88??., 

8gn., 93?*., 95 n., 96))., g8n., 

100-102 11., T04M., 158??., 

163 «., 1657?.. 
Arts, in age of Asoka, 134. 
Arya-sthavira-nikdya, Buddhist 

school, 2 1 7 n. 
Asandhimitra, queen, 193 «., 

t 2 34- 

Asinave, meaning of, 183 n., 
184 n. 

Asoka, early life of, 19 ; corona- 
tion of, 20; chronology of, 21, 
68, 72; titles of, 22; wars of, 
24-6; conversion of, 27, 28, 
199 n. ; ethics of, 30-4, 67 ; 
monk and monarch, 35 9 ; 
parallel cases, 36-8 ; made^ 
pious tours, 39; converted by 
Tlpagupfca,. 41 ; organized 
missions, 42-7 ; his relations 
with Ceylon, 48 ; his brother 
Mahendra, 49-52 ; published 
Rock Edicts, 52 ; appointed 
Censors, 53 ; published Pillar 
Edicts, 54 ; Council of, 55 ; his 

ogtriafiL_-p X sanct itv_„.o,f^ life, ' 
6-8; taught reverence, 58 ; 

Q 2 



inflicted capital punishment, 

59, 1 86 it. ; toleration of, 59-63; 
virtues taught by, 65 ; did not 
abdicate, 69 ; successors of, 71 ; 
extent of empire of, 75- s - I 
daughter and son-in-law of, 78 ; 
said to have raited Khotan,8] \ 
improved Pa^aliputra, 85 ; anto- 
crat and Head of Church, 92, 
195 ».; administration of, 93; 
personal supervision of, 97; 
penal laws of, 100; plfl 
history of, 105 ; character of, 
106; buildings of, 107 ; monas- 
teries of, 109; sttli>tH of, no; 
pillars of, 116, 125 ; n.ek in- 
scriptions of, I 26-34 ; 
dwellings of, 134 ; arts in age of, 

135-8; learning in time of, 139, 
script^ used by, E39 ; ityla of, 
144; Ineeribed pillar.- of, [46; 

called ri/ii l ha , 150//., 15911.; 

roy nt Taxila and I'jjain, I Si /,.; 

reriewed DMMoref of hi reign, 
190 ; at Lumbini Garden, [99 : 
visited iMfxu of Konakamana, 
200; Oeylonete legend of 205: 

last days of, 219; Indian 

legends of, 221; pifgrimag 

226 ; Knnala, ion of, 234. 
Asokftrflma, monaetety, 109. 

Atokdvaddna^ cited, 40, 41 ft., 

221 a., 226 //., 233 //. 
Assam ■ Kftmaropa, Bi. 
Assyrian models, 1 43. 
Avanti country, 209. 
Ayukta =- >t 

Babylon, death of Alexander at, 

II, 72 ; Seleucus satrap of, 14. 
Bactriana, 1 1. 
Bairftt, rock inscription at, 132, 

Bakhira, pillar at, 117, 120. 
Bakkula « Vakknla, q. >-. 
Bftlapandita, ascetic, 224. 
Bali, defined, 199 >/. 
Baluchistan, 15, 75, 81. 
Bankipore, 16, 84, 108. 
Barabar Hills, 70, 134. 

Basftr Yaisali, 1 1 7. 

Bas-reliefs, 137, 142. 

Bats, eaten, 187. 

Beef, used in ancient India, 

Benares, 28 ?/., 40. 
Bengal, Sasflnka, king of, 71. 
Besnagar, railing at, 114; 

female statue at, 1 16; — Vedi- 

tagiri, 209. 
Bhftbra Edict, 30 »., 32, 35, 73, 

92, 126, 134. 
Bndga, defined, 199 n. 
Bhandu, convert in Ceylon, 213. 
Bharhut, ttApa at, 113, 114. 
Bhattiprolu, inscription at, 140. 
Bhikshut ■ monks, 15871. 
Bbllsfl, 114. 
Bhojas, 42, 174. 
Bifts, river, 75. 
Bible, contrasted with Asoka's 

teaehing, 33. 
Bibliographical note, 202. 
Bimbisara, king, 221. 
Bindusftra, king, 18-20, 72, 105, 

206. 221, 222. 
Births and deaths, register of, 

Bodh Gay ft, bodhi tree at. 40 : 
railing at, 1 14. 

Bodhi bo . tree, 71, 1 14, 213. 
a 1 <>. 

Bodoahprfl, king of Burma, 

39 n. 
Borderers' Edict, 32/1., 177. 
Bow, Indian, 103. 104 // . 
Brahmagiri, rock in>cription at. 

132, 139. 151. 
Brahmanical law, 29. 
Brahmans, 149?*.. 151 //., 160, 

166, 167. 169//.. 170, 172. 193. 

Brfthm!, script, 129, 139. 144. 
Branding, regulated, 57, 188. 
Brihadratha, last of Maurya 

dynasty, 71. 74. 
Buddha, sayings of. 30 /<., 32, 

65. 177 n. ; title of Gautama. 

39 ; childhood of, 40 ; disciple- 

of, 41 ; teaching of, 47, 207, 

2i; ; 'former'. 40. 54. 200; 



death of, 69, 82, 209, 211, 226, 
233; relics of, no, 225; 
images of, 138; not called 
vyutha, 150/1.; mentioned in 

'^Bhabra Edict, 154; forbade 
castration, 188 to.; birthplace 
of, 199 ; Konakamana, the 
'former', 39, 54, 73, 200; 
statue of, 229. 

Buddhism, chronicles of, 23, 
~ 43 ; conversion of _ Aso ka to, 
28 ; ethical thoughlTof, 30, 67, 
1 89 ?i. ; in Burma, 44; in other 
countries, 46 ; in far South, 49 ; 
in Ceylon, 50 ; holy places of, 
54, 73, 227 ; sanctity of animal 
- life taught by, 58; and Jainism , 
61 ; not in Assam, 81 ; In 
Khotan, 82 ; spirit of, 90 ; 
technical terms of, 165 w., 

Buddhist, Order, 26, 35, 73, 
151 to.; literature, 32, 33, 48, 
63, 144 ; attitude, 34 ; monks, 
36, 208, 228; 'ordination', 
38, 153 to. ; dJiamma or La w 
oJLPiety, 34, 39, 98 ; Council, 
55; monarchs, 59; ascetics, 60; 
philosophy, 65 ; monasteries, 
77> J 39 5 church, 92, in ; 
Jdtakas, 113; buildings, 115; 
doctrine of joyousness, 173/?. 

Burma, happiness aimed at in, 
31 ; self-reliance in, 34; the 
Order in, 38 ; Bodoahpra, king 
of, 39 w. ; Buddhism in, 44, 46; 
palaces of, 86 ; wooden archi- 
tecture in, 137 ; monasteries in, 
139 ; four queens in, 193 n. 

Cambodia, Buddhism in, 46. 

Canon, Pali, 32 to., 154 to. 

Capital, Persepolitan, 140. 

Caste, development of, 29. 

Castration, regulated, 57, 188. 

Casts, of Asoka inscriptions, 242. 

Catechism, teaching of, 34 to., 

Oauvery, river =* Kaviri, q. v. 

Cave, dwellings, 134; dedica- 
tions, 146, 198, 201. 

Censors, of Law of Piety, 53, 57, 
99, 161, 162, 171, 192; of 
women, 162 to., 171. 

Ceremonial, true, 166. 

Ceylon, Buddhism in, 38, 44-6, 
217, in the edicts, 43, 44, 
153 «■•, J 56, 174; legends of, 
47, 55, 205-20, 229 to., 232 to., 
2 33 w -> 2 39 n - ) Buddhist litera- 
ture in, 48 ; monuments in, 50, 
51 ; inscriptions in, 140; Nis- 
sanka Malla, king of, 16971.; 
conversion of, 209. 

Chanakya, minister, 13, 17 n., 
83", 88, 89, 93, 96^8, 101, 

I99 TO., 206. 

Chanar (Chunar), sandstone, 

Chandagirika, executioner, 224. 
Chandala = outcaste, 239 to. 
Chandragiri, river, 80. 
Chandragupta Maurya, 13-18, 

72, 75, 80. 
Chariots, 101, 102. 
Charlemagne, compared with 

Asoka, 92, 98 rc., 106, 182 to., 

195 TO. 
Charumati, daughter of Asoka, 

Chera, kingdom, 157 to. 
j China, Burmese Buddhism from, 

44 ; Buddhism in, 46 ; trade 

with, 79 ; Wu-ti, emperor of. 

36, 38 ; Shi-hwang-ti, emperor 

of, 81. 
Chinese pilgrims, 36, 66, 71, 117; 

settlers in Khotan, 81 ; version 

of text, 154 to.; dates for Asoka, 

2 15 «. 
Chola, kingdom, 42, 43, 48, 156, 

Christianity, 61. 
Church, Buddhist, 35, 92, 193 to., 

Commissioners, 185. 
Conjeeveram = Kanchi, q.v., 

Constantine, emperor, 21, 46. 
Consular officers, 8711. 
Council, convened by Asoka, 55, 

74. 196 H. 



Courtesans, at court, 89 ; in 
secret service, 98, 163 //. 

Cow, Hindu reverence for, 58. 

Cromwell, letter of, quoted, 
169 it. 

Cutch (Kachh), 8x. 

Cyrene, 43, 68, 73, 174 „. 

Darius, conquest of Indus vail. \ 
by, 128 ; rook Inscription of, 141. 
Dasaratha. grandson of 

7°> 7 1 - 72, 74- 
Death, penalty of, 59, 80, 
Deimachos, amhasaanor, [8, 

Delhi, Inscribed pillars at. tai, 

I416, U)~ ,,. 

Devdiuttn piya, meaning >>f, 22 ; 

I . kin- "I' < V\ Inn. j 1 1 . 
DevapAla,H<>n-in-la\voi'A.M.K;i, <j$, 
Deva Patau, 7S. 
Devi (1) mother of Manendi*, 

JO9; ->) title He? Majesty; 

l 93"-: :. Durga, 12; „. 
Dkatnma, tee Dharma, 
Dhathmapada, cited, ;,;,, 34. 
. Dhanananda, Idng, 206. 
Dharma {dkarkma . meaning "f. 

Dharmackakra, wheel <>! lbs law, 

1 36. 
Dkarmddhikdrt, 53. 
Dkarmagttptaka f Buddhist lenool, 

j 1 7 n. 
Dkarma-makdmdtra f defined, 53, 

88, 101 ,/. 
Dkarmardja ■ Asoka, 107 n< 
Dkarmofnkta, defined, 53, 99, 

15811., 161 /*., 19a n. 
Dhauli, rock inscription at. 25, 

131, 177"-, '79- 

Dinapore ^Dhflnapur, canton- 
ment, 84. 

iJi/Kiru. coin, 230. 

Dionysios, mission of, 19. 

Dipavamsa, Ceylonese chronicle, 
18 »., 74, 205 a., 210 /(., 115 /'.. 

233 *• 
Divy&vaddma, 239 n. 
Drangiana, 1 1. 
Drflvida, kingdom, 49. 

Edicts, style of, 105 ; in chrono- 
logical order, 145. 

Egypt, embassy from, 1 9 ; Ptolemy 
Philadelphoi, king of, 43, 72, 
73, 174; irrigation in, 95. 

Elephant, figure of, at Kiilsl, 1 28 ; 
image of, at Dhauli, 131. 

Elephants, accepted by Seleukos, 
15 ; in Maurya army, 102. 

Epirus, Alexander king of, 43, 

73, '74- 
Euddmos, 12, 13, 7.'. 
Eumene.s, 1 a, 

Fa-hien, Chinees pilgrim, 66/*., 

107//.. ios. 
Female, guards, 89 ; morals, 99 ; 

establishments, 162. 
Fir6z Shah, removed pillars, [31, 

Folklore. .'37 n. 

GandhAra, oonntrj, 44, 141, 

Qandhflra, people, 43, 162. 
Gangaridae, 138. 
Garlic, prejudice against, 239*1 
Gautama Buddha, 39. 
Gedrosia, II, 15, 75. 
Ghazn!, 75 a. 
Ghosha, saint, 237. 
Girnflr, rock inscription at, 80, 

93"-. I2 9- '3 - 
Godftvarl, river, 24. 
Gtsang-ma, Tibetan prince, pi. 
Gupta, father of Upagupta, 41, 


Hair, penalty of shaving, 100, 

Heaven, in the edicts, 64, 65. 
Hellenistic motives in art, 142. 
Hemachandra, 41. 
Herat, 11, 75. 
Himalaya (Himavanta), mission 

to, 44, 45. 
Hinduism, 61, 67. 
N Hindu Kush, II, 15, 17, 75, 80. 
xH'"^"*, notip"* "f, 58, 59. 
Hippolytus, legend of, 237 n. 



Hiuen Tsang, Chinese pilgrim, 
76, 79 n., 108, no, 117, 201 «., 

233 «• 
Hospitals, 65, 157 m. 
Hsiao-Yen, Chinese emperor, 36, 

Hunt, the Royal, 56, 73, 90, 165. 
Hyphasis, river, 75. 

Indian Museum, 242. 
Indra, deity, 241. 
Inscriptions, in chronological 

order, 145. 
Inspectors, 99, 171. 
Ipsos, battle of, 72. 
Irrigation department, 95. 
Isila, town, 151. 
Itsing, Chinese pilgrim, 158 ■//., 

188 n. 

x Jainism, 61, 71. 
Jains, 58, 60, 61, 62, 193. 
Jalauka, a son of Asoka, 71, 

Jambudvipa, defined, 149 n. 
Japan, Buddhism in, 46. 
Jdtakas, sculptures illustrating, 

Jatinga-Ramesvara, rock in- 
scription at, 132. 
Jaugada, rock inscription at, 25, 

Jetavana, 124, 135M. 
Junagarh, 130. 

Kabul, or Paropanisadai , 11; 

stronghold, 75. 
Kachh (Cutch), 81. 
Kakavarnin, king, 221. 
Kalasoka, king, 205. 
Kalinga, conquest of, 24-7, 73, 

79, l 7 2 , x 77; edi cts, 131, 144, 

Kalsl, rock inscription at, 128, 166. 
Kalyanapuri, river, 80. 
Kamarupa = Assam, 81. 
Kamboja, tribe, 42, 174. 
Kanakamuni = Konakamana, q.v. 
Kanchl (Oonjeeveram), 50. 
KandahSr, n, 75. 
Kangarote, river, 80. 

Kankaii Tlia, at Mathura, 41. 
Kao-tsu Wu-ti, Chinese emperor, 

Kapilavastu, 40, 200 n„ 227. 
Kapisa, town, 76. 
Kapurdagiri inscription = Shah • 

bazgarhi, q. v. 
Karma, theory of, 64. 
Karuvaki, family name of Second 

Queen, 193 n., 198. 
Kashmir, included in empire, 76, 

81 ; monasteries in, 77; mission 

to, 44, 212. 
Kassapa(Kasyapa), (1) mission- 
ary, 44, 45; ( 2 ) former 

Buddha, 300 n. 
Kdsyapiya, school of Buddhism, 

217 n. 
Kathdvatthu, publication of, 211, 

Kathiawar = Surashtra, 130. 
Kathmandu, 77. 
Kausambi Edict, 54, 196. 
Kautilya (Kautalya), = Chana- 

kya, q.v., 83. 
Kaviri (Kaveri), river, 49, 50,233. 
Kerala, Malabar, 80, 156 n., 

Keralaputra, kingdom, 43, 156. 
Khallataka, minister, 223. 
Khaisi, error for Kaisi, q. v. 
Kharavela, king, 62. 
Kharoshthi, script, 128, 139, 144. 
Khotan, traditions of, 81, 82. 
Kiratas, hill-men, 78. 
Konakamana, Buddha, 39, 54, 

73, 200. 
Korea, Buddhism in, 46. 
Korkai, port, 156 11. 
K6s, defined, 91 n. 
Krakuchanda, former Buddha, 

200 n. 
Krishna (Kistna), river, 175 n. 
Kukkutarama, monastery, 109, 

229, 239. 
Kumarapaia, king of Gujarat, 

Kumrahar, remains at, 108. 
Kunaia, son of Asoka, 71, 234-8. 
Kusinagara, 40, 41 n. 
KAtadanta Sutta, quoted, 65. 



Labranda, donoiV records at, 115. 
Lalita Pfttan, 77. 
Lance, Indian, 103. 
Land, revenue, 95, 199 //. 
LatBhairo at Benerea, 28 n., 109. 
Lauriyft-Araraj, pillar, 120, 

LauriyA-Naudangarh, pillar, 

ri*8, 147. 

Life, sanctity of animal, go. 
Lion, capitals, 1 1 S, 119. 1 36. 
Lucknow, .Mus.jum, 242. 
Lumbini, garden, 39, 40. 199//. 

Madara, Mount. 24 1 . 
Madura, l'and\a capital, 49, 
1561k ; district, 1 74 a. 

Magadha, Nanda dynasty of, 13, 

205 ; Atoka, king of, 35, 72, 

153; l'ataliputra, capital of, 

S4 : dialect of, 144, 108 /'., 

I99 //. ;, kin- of, J05. 

Magas, king of I iyrene, 4 

73> '71. 
Maha Arittha, n« pin w of king 

of ( Seylon, 1 1 2. 
MahAbodhi, tree, -'37. 
MahAdeva, miseionary, 44. 
Mahadhammarakkhita, mi — i' 01- 

arv, 44, 3 1 9. 
Maha KAsyapa, saini, 
Mahftmandala, kin;/, 221. 
Mahdm&tra, defined, 93, 95. 
Mahamegha, garden, 214, 319. 
Mahanadi, river, 24. 
MahapadMvua Jdtaka^ cited. 
Maharakkhita, miationaiy, 44. 
Maharashtra, country, 44, 162 /<. 
Mdk&tangkikOi Bohool of Bud- 
dhism, 217//. 
Mahdvanua t chronicle, 74, 205??., 

217 «•» 229 a., 233 n. 
Mahavihara, monastery, 205 u., 

Mahendra (Mahinda), brother 

(or? son) of Asoka, 49-52, 210. 
Mahipaia, king, 2 2 1 n. 
Mahlsamandala = Mysore, 4^, 

MahUdsaka, school of Buddhism, 

217 a. 

Majjhantika, missionary, 44. 
1 Majjhima, missionary, 44. 
Makran, II, 15, 75. 
Malakuta, or I 'and \ a, country, 

Mangalore, 1 56 a. 
Manju Patan, 77. 
Mansahra, rook inscription, 127. 
Mathiah - Lanriva-Nandan-arli, 

7-'m '47- 

MathurA, 41, 226. 

Maudgaiayana, dieoiplc of Bud- 
dha, 228. 

Maurya, dj uai 19, 71 ; 

ohr logy, 72 ; suzerainty, 79 ; 

court, 90 ; J'ersian out! 
100; navy, 101 ; government, 

IO4, [38 ; J6W< llerv. fcc, 137 | 
civilization, 1 40 ; art, 143; clan, 

MayA, doctrine of, 62, <>;,. 
McCrindle, work- of, 19 ft., 86 ft. 
Meditation, value of, 65. 
Meerut (MIrath , pillar from, 

iai, 140. 
Megasthenes, 1 6, J 7/'., 7-', s j. 
Mesopotamia, 140. 
Mihintal6, monaatety, 214. 

M>if'>r. pillar- ^ mil. <ton.-H, 9] »., 

I <j2 ,i. 

Minor Rock Edicts, distribution 

of, j 3a ; rernont of, 149-52. 
Missa, mountain, 213. 
Mini dominiei, of Charlemagni 

1 8a u., [85 n. 
Missionaries, pamei of, 44. 45, 

2 1 2. 
Missions, Asoka's network of, 

Moggali (Mogali), father of 

Tishya (3), 45, 210, 217, 218. 
Monasteries, of Asoka, 109, 

Mongolia, Buddhism in, 46. 
Mudrd Pi'Ushasri, drama, 17 »., 

22 n. 
Munda, king, 221. 
Mysore, mission to, 44, 212. 

NAbhaparhtis of NAbhaki 
1 74 



N&g&rjuni Hills, caves in, 70, 


Naianda, buildings at, no. 
Nanda, dynasty, 13, 104, 205. 
Nangrahar (Nangnahdr), stUya 

at, 76. 
Navy, in Maurya age, 101. 
Nepal, 77, 81. 
Nigliva, inscribed pillar at, 39, 

77, 124, 148, 200. 
Nigrodha, legend of, 207, 210. 
Nikdya, meaning of, 171 n., 

189 rc. 
Nirgranthas = Jains, q. v., 49. 
Nirvana, doctrine of, 64. 
Nun, 195, 197. 
Nunneries, 139. 

Omar, Khaltf, 2T. 

Omphis, king of Taxila, 12, 72. 

Onions, prejudice against, 238, 

Order, the Buddhist, 149, 151. 
' Ordination,' Buddhist, 38, 153W. 
Orissa, wild tribes of, 179 n. 
Oxen, racing, 90. 
Oxy artes, satrap, 1 1 . 

Pada, scribe, 152. 
Paithan, town, 1 74 n. 
Palaces, Maurya, 85, 107. 
Pali canon or scriptures, 63, 

Pallava, kingdom, 49. 
Pandrethan, city, 76. 
Pandya, kingdom or country, 42, 

43,' 49, 156, 174- 
Panjab, Pdros and Omphis, lords 

of, 12. 
Parishad (parisd), meaning of, 

158 n. 
Parkham, statue at, 116. 
Paropanisadai, satrapy, 11, 15, 


Pdsarhda, meaning of, 161 «., 
1 70 n. 

Pasupati, shiine of, 78. 

Pataliputra (Patna), the Maurya 
capita], 13, 16, 28 n., 50, 72, 
105, 155 «-, 162, 195, 206, 221, 
223, 229 ; hospital at, 66 ; 

described, 84, 85, 107 ; adminis- 
tration of, 86 ; communications 
of, 91 ; procession at, 159; 
Council of, 196 n. 

Patan, city, 77, 78. 

Patna = Pataliputra, q. v., 16; 
railings at, 114. 

Patrokles, officer, 19. 

Paul, St., a 1. 

Pegu, Asoka's alleged mission to, 


Peithon, son of Agenor, 1 1 . 

Penal law, 99. 

Persecutions, 62 n. 

Persepolitan capitals, 136, 141. 

Persia, influence of, 100, 140, 
141, 143. 

Phaedra, legend of, 237 n. 

Philippos, satrap, 12, 72. 

Piety, Law of, see I) harma, 30. 

Pillar inscriptions, 182-300. 

Pillars, at Patna, 108, 109, 125 ; 
of Asoka numerous, 117, 123; 
inscribed, 123, 146; un- 
discovered, 124. 

Pingala Vatsajiva, ascetic, 222. 

Pitenika (Pitinika), tribe, 42, 


Piyadasi, meaning of, 22. 
Pdros, king, 12, 72, 138. 
Pradesika = district officers, 1 58 n . 
Prakrit, language, 144. 
Prasii, nation, 138. 
Pravarapura, 76. 
Priyadarffin = Piyadasi, q. c. 
Proxenos, Indian parallel to, 87. 
Ptolemy Philadelphos, king oi 
Egypt, 19, 43, 72, 74. 

Pulinda, tribe, 42, 175. 

Punarvasti, day, 188. 

Pundra vardhana, in Bengal, 

Purdnas, I'jn., 18 n. 
Purnavarman, Raja, 71. 
Pushpamitra (Pushya-), king, 

71, 74, 242. 
Pushy adharma, king, 242. 

Queen ant, 187. 

Queen's Edict, 54, 71 w., 197. 

Queens, of Asoka, 193, T98. 



Rftdhagupta, minister, 223. 

Radhiah = Lauriya-Araraj. 7. p., 

Rfthula, address to, 154. 

Railings, of sltljxit;, 1 14. 

Rajagriha, 221, 230. 

JtajtUns {Hajjtik'ts) ■ Com- 
missioners, 94, 1 85 7*. 

Rakkhita, missionary, 44. 

Ral-pa-chan, king of Tibet, 51. 

Rampurwfl, pillars at, 119,147, 

Rashtrika, tribe, 43, 162 11. 

Rebirth, theory of, 61. 

Register, of births and deaths, 87. 

Revenue, land, 95, 199/1. 

Reverence, duty of, 58. 

Rishipattana = Sarnath, </. r .. 

' 227. 

Roads, 91, 120. 

Rock Edicts, distribution <>f, 
ijo; versions of, 1 49-8 1. 

Rudradftman, inscription of, So, 

93»-> 95i ! 3°- 
Rumminde!, inscribed pillar at. 

39, 4°» 77, '-M- '4 s - 
RClpnath, rock inscription at, 

';-• '.v.» 149. 151 "i -°-- 

Sahaiin, king, 221. 

Sahasram, rock inscription at. 

132, 133, 149. 
Sakr.i, god, lord of the Doras, 

Sakti, goddesses, 70. 

Sakya sage, a title of Buddha, 

SamAjo, meaning of, 155 u. 
Samftpa, town, 177, 179 //. 
Samatata = Gangetic delta, 79. 
8ambodki t meaning of, 166 n. 
Samprati ^Sampadi , grandson 

of Asoka, 71, 74, 239, 242. 
Samudra, ascetic, 224 n. 
Sftnchi, stt'tjuin at, 45, 110-12; 

edict, 197. 
Sanghamitrft, legend of, 47, 52, 

Sanskrit, language, 144. 
Sariputra, disciple of B iddha, 

Sarn&th, visited by Asoka, 40, 
41 //.; edict, 54, 55, 92, 195; 
pillar at, 124, 147 ; lion capital 
at, 136, 140. 

Sm r.'istiruiliit, school of Bud- 
dhism, 217 71. 

Sastlnka, king of Bengal, 71. 

Satiyaputra, kingdom of, 43, 
80, 156. 

Satrap, title of, 142. 

Schism, penalty of, 195. 

Schools, of Buddhism, 217 n. 

Script, Brfihml, 139, 144; 
Kharoshtht, 128, 139, 144. 

Sculpture, handmaid of archi- 
tecture, 135 ; in bas-relief, ^37. 

Seasons, three, 188 n. 

Seleukos Nikator, 14-16, 18, 

19- 7*i 75- 
Shahbazgarhi, rock inscription 

at, 126, 172. 
Shamasastry, Mr. K., discovered 

Arthastistru, 6, 17 11., 83. 
Shi-hwang-ti, Chinese emperor. 

Siam, Buddhism in, 46. 
Sibyrtios, satrap, II, 16. 
Siddflpura, rock inscription at, 

132, [5] n. 

Silk-cotton, 122. 

Bind, 11, 81. 

Sistan, 1 1. 

Sogdiana, 1 1. 

S6n, river, 16, 84, 85. 

Sona, missionary, 44. 

Sopara, rock inscription at, 129. 

Sravast!, city, 40, 41 n., 135*. 

6rinagar, city, 76. 

Stadium, defined, 91 n. 

Stasander, governor. [I. 

Stasanor, governor, 1 1 . 

St ha rira, school of Buddhism, 

217 n. 
Stoic ethics, 34. 
8t4pa, defined, 107, no. 
Style, of the edicts, 144. 
Subhadriingl, mother of Asoka, 

Subscription, building by. 115. 
Sudarsana, lake, 1 30. 
Suhma, kingdom, 79. 



Sumana, (1) brother of Asoka, 

206 ; (2) son of daughter of 

Asoka, 210. 
Sumitra, saint, 211. 
Surashtra, 130. 
Surparaka = Sopara, q. v. 
Suslma, brother of Asoka, 221, 

Susunaga, king, 205 n. 
Suvannabhumi = Pegu, 44, 212. 
Suvarnagiri, town, 26, 93, 94, 

Suyasas, a son of Asoka, 194 n. 
Svasas, kingdom of, 222. 
Swat valley, 76, 81. 
Syria, kings of, 14, 18, 43, 76, 

157 »., i74». 

Tamalipti (Tamra-), port, 78, 

212, 214. 
Tamilakam, Tamil Land, 81. 
Tamluk = Tamalipti, q. v., 79. 
Tamraparni, (1) river, 156 n. ; 

(2) Ceylon, 174 n. 
Tamrasutiya, Buddhist school, 

Tarti, Nepalese, 77, 124, 146. 
Taxila, city, Omphis king of, 12, 

72 ; Asoka viceroy of, 20, 

181 11., 222; highway to, 91 ; 

prince of, 93, 94, 181, 223, 


Teeth, used as seal, 234. 

Thuparama, stupa, 215. 

Tibet, Buddhism in, 46 ; Bal- 
pa-chan king of, 51 ; legends 
of, 81. 

Tibetans ? = Kambojas, 16271. 

Tilaura Kot = Kapilavastu, q. v. } 
40 n. 

Tirhut, 229. 

Tlrthyas, Hindus, opponents of 
Buddhism, 228. 

Tishya (Tissa), (1) brother of 
Asoka, 206, 210, 216, 218 ; 
(2) king of Ceylon, 211 ; (3) 
son of Mogali (Moggali), 41, 
45, 210-12, 216-18; (4) 
another saint, 211; (5) con- 
stellation and day, 179, 180, 

Tishyarakshita, queen of Asoka, 

193 n,, 220, 234, 237. 
Tivara, son of Asoka, 70, 193 w., 

194%., 198. 
Toleration, 60; edict, 127, 170. 
Topra, pillar from, 121, 123, 

Tosali, town, 25, 93, 94, 177 n., 

Trade, Board of, 87. 
Trees, planted, 91, 157, 192. 
Triparadeisos, partition of, 11, 

12 »., 14,72- 
Tulakuchi, king, 221. 
Tuluva, country, 80, 156 n. 
Tushaspha, Yavana Raja, 93 n., 


Udayibhadra, king, 221. 
Udbalika, meaning of, 199 n. 
Ujjain, Asoka viceroy of, 20, 

181 «., 206, 209; prince of, 

93, 94, 181; 'hell' or prison 

at, 225. 
Upagupta, preceptor of Asoka, 

40, 41, 45 »., 77. 
Upasampada, denned, 38. 
Upatishya, Questioning of, 154. 
Uraiyur, old Chola capital, 

156 n., 174 n. 
Urumunda, mount, 226. 
Uttara, missionary, 44. 
Uttiya, king of Ceylon, 214. 

Vaibadyavddin, school of Bud- 
dhism, 217 n. 

Vaisali = Basar, 117. 

Vakkula, saint, 40, 228. 

Vanavasi = N. Kannara, 44, 

Vedisagiri = Besnagar, 209. 

Viceroys, 93. 

Videha = Tirhut, 229. 

Vigatasoka (Vitasoka), brother 
of Asoka, 222, 228-31. 

Vrihaspati, king, 242. 

Vrishasena, king, 242. 

Vulture's Peak, 230. 

Vyntha, meaning of, 150W. 

2 5 2 


War Office, ioj. 

"Wardens of the Marches, 26, 

Water-rates, 95. 
"Weapons, Indian, 104 n. 
"Wells, along roftdf, 91, 15,7, i<;j. 
"Women, censors of, 162 «., 171 ; 

see Female. 
Writing, early knowledge of, 1 38. 

"Wu-ti, emperor of China, 38. 

Yasas, saint, or Ntliavira, 229. 
Yavana = Vona, q. r. 
Year, three seasons in, 188 n. 
Yona, 42, 53, 937;., 95, 157, 

} uktu 'y/a\ meaning of, 53 »., 


Zflbul, city. 75. 

Oxford : Printed at the Clarendon Press by Horace Ham, If. A, 

.Xttio^nlnSUfC, Cr\<rr4., <<\ot . 




DS Smith, Vincent Arthur 

451 Asoka, the Buddhist emperor 

.5 of India